7 Cheshvan 5781 / Sunday, October 25, 2020 | Torah Reading: Lech Lecha
 
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HomeIsrael and SocietyCurrent AffairsThe Thirsting Trees
 
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The Thirsting Trees    

The Thirsting Trees



"The trees in California are just barely holding on – they badly need water.” Does this statement describe in real terms the fallen state of the human condition?

 



Spiritual awareness applies to both our personal lives and the messages G-d sends us as a community, which is the means by which He instructs larger groups. When more of us comprehend what He wants and take action, then our world changes for the better. Nothing could be clearer than the “Dead Tree Crisis” here in southern California coupled by the wave of blistering heat and accompanying drought. Remembering King David’s words to G-d stating, “Your rod and Your staff shall comfort me” – Psalm 23, we begin to think spiritually about the significance of this “crisis” and what action we can take on an individual and subliminal level to help mitigate it. Certainly dismay, agitation, frustration, and confusion over the predicament are not the solution. It appears that California is a messenger of the Divine. The deeper meaning is the key to the resolution of the problem, but more of us have to buy in to this truth.

 

The drought in southern California has caused a weakening of tree roots, further complicated by Xylella fastidious, a disease that causes accelerated leaf loss to the extent that affected trees have been described by the Tree People as resembling skeletons. A bark beetle infestation, exacerbated by the drought, has also accelerated the death of many trees. Indeed, falling trees are not something to be taken lightly. Depending upon how badly affected the roots are and where we happen to be at any given time, this could signal cause for concern that a dead tree could wind up crushing a house, a car, or even human beings, G-d forbid.  How strong is our own family tree and its root system?

 

Man is likened to a tree of the field. We have comparable parts. We have limbs, and we have roots. We bear fruit. We produce branches, the members of our family. How strong are they? Our family tree is our connection to the past and to the future. Our roots are our traditions, our family lineage, our values, morals, and ethics, and the precious inherited gift of Judaism. How we were raised determines how we raise the next generation and how strong we stand. Roots are hidden from view, but they are vital to the health of trees and of mankind. On a deeper level, then, we have far more to be concerned about than we think.

 

If we focus only upon the drought and the dead tree crisis, we are addressing the symptoms, yet we miss G-d’s calling out to us. As we have seen, our leaders are having difficulty solving the water shortage dilemma. They have been trying to find a solution but nothing much has been resolved, leaving us with dying trees. Only G-d holds the key to rain. The answer comes from the Bible, in which we are commanded to pray for rain, reminding us where the solution will come and to develop our Jewish roots.

 

An arborist who works in the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys, wrote “Even if we get rain, there are many trees so stressed that it won’t help them -these trees are just barely holding on.”  Does this statement describe in real terms the fallen state of the human condition?  The trees need more water. Symbolically, man needs more water.

 

For us, the Jewish people, Torah study is likened to water. So the answer becomes clear. The ending statement of the article notes, “Homeowners can save trees by watering slowly at the drip line and placing mulch around the base of trunks.” Mulch protects the roots and helps retain moisture for sustaining the life of the tree.

 

If we all start slowly to change, drip by drip, to nurture our families with the teachings of the Torah with love and compassion, to focus on values and giving instead of getting, to see the good in ourselves and others, to focus inward, to love who we were created to be, to love G-d and to grow in observance of His mandates, and to focus on improving in the area of ethics, morality, and living life on His terms, teaching these important principles to our children, then the problems we see in our physical reality may very well begin to dissolve.  It is because we will have tackled them at the root, and G-d will assist us.

 

As stated in Psalm 1, the reward for believing in and aligning with the Torah is great. “He [Man] shall be like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and whose leaf does not wither; and all that he does shall prosper.”

 

Along with the dryness have come fires.  A blazing sand fire near Santa Clarita began Erev Shabbat on July 22, 2016 and doubled in size in one day, destroying eighteen (18) homes on Saturday. This fire, known as the Sand Fire, shares the same primary root word with the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School incident on December 14, 2012. The Hebrew word for sand – chol – also means "devoid of holiness". Is there a message hidden within? Are we able to decode it the way Hashem is hoping we will, and then shift our paradigm en masse?

 

A relentless fire season is anticipated to last into November and December where the firefighters are expecting to play a game of “whack-a-mole” to battle the blazes that may arise. A fire erupted from a gas leak in the San Fernando Valley in a suburb of Los Angeles near the Woodland Hills Recreation Center on August 3rd at a street address with very telling numbers: 5858. With spiritual awareness we open our eyes to the fact that 8 + 5 = 13 and 13 + 13 = 26, which is the gematria for the Almighty. There are lots of clues to initiate introspection.

 

We can, “drip by drip”, emerge from these “emergencies” stronger and more directed in knowing what we must do now, or we can ignore their deeper significance. The Jewish people can wake up and come out of hiding. or continue to be like “canaries in a coal mine” and suffer the consequences of our neglect of Hashem. We can look only at the physical evidence and the superficial and negate the need for change, or we can declare an end to mass complacency.

 

We are losing more of our children to other religions that they see as more spiritual. However, nothing truly compares to the spirituality of Judaism. Somehow this truth is not well known. We can wait for the wake-up calls to get louder, or we can nurture our souls right now little by little by attaching ourselves to the ways of the Torah so that we can come to know G-d, which is our purpose in this world. He will provide evidence to us that we are on the right path when we open our eyes and commit to incremental growth. The ball is in our court. It’s time to play by the rules and merit the revealed goodness that Hashem is pushing us to work in unity towards.





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