A Vignette, a “Full-Moon” & Trees

I think I have finally moved to NY… My proof? a phone call with some service (bank? phone? who knows-) who asked for my address: “What city? Can you spell it? State please? Can you spell that?” My patience totally ran out. What’s with these people who can’t understand where is Brunxneyork???

“Full-Moon” – פולמון – is a new Israeli TV show – just the right mix of drama and shtuyot (nosense)in manageable segments of 25 minutes each. The background is a beautiful Thailand beach and the storyline involves a colorful cast of Israelis, each with his or her story, and why they ended up there. For anyone who traveled these region (and even for those who didn’t), there are moments that it could pass as a documentary. And – if you make it to the end of the first season’s 50 episodes (yes, I admit, I did), maybe you’ll discover that it’s not just about lost Israelis, Russian mafia, crazy conspiracies or gorgeous views, but also about friendships, the kind, for some reason, that can be found in Israel. Somehow it seems to fit this week. The show can be found on youtube; no subtitles.

In continuation with last week and our love story with the Land, this week’s Torah portion, loaded with intriguing laws, offers one. So we are commanded (Leviticus 19:23):

וְכִי-תָבֹאוּ אֶל-הָאָרֶץ, וּנְטַעְתֶּם כָּל-עֵץ מַאֲכָל… 23 And when ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food…

This verse – partially – might be familiar from Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemet LeYisrael) publications. In this week’s Parashat Kedoshim, it is part of a number of agricultural mitzvot. We are commanded against different kinds of mixing: not to tether mismatched animals together; not to wear wool and linen, and not to sow a field with an inappropriate mixture of seeds (kil’ayim).
As explained here elsewhere, Rabbi Hirsch connects the idea of kil’ayim with the Hebrew word ke-le – prison, since the wrong kind of mixing confines and blocks growth.
In this particular case, we might further derive from this that it is better to not plant at all, so we will not come to mix anything. That’s when the Torah says: “When you come to the Land, you WILL plant”.
In the spirit of spiraling Torah learning, the midrash in Vayikra Rabba 25:3 picks up on the word “etz”, tree, here, and connects us to the first tree and the first planting act in the Torah, back in Genesis:

רַבִּי יְהוּדָה בֶּן רַבִּי סִימוֹן פָּתַח (דברים יג, ה) אַחֲרֵי ה’ אֱלֹהֵיכֶם תֵּלֵכוּ. וְכִי אֶפְשָׁר לְבָשָׂר וָדָם לַהֲלֹךְ אַחַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא? …וְאַתָּה אוֹמֵר וּבוֹ תִדְבָּקוּן! אֶלָּא מִתְּחִלַּת בְּרִיָּתוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם לֹא נִתְעַסֵּק הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אֶלָּא בְּמַטָּע תְּחִלָּה, הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב (בראשית ב, ח): “וַיִּטַּע ה’ אֱלֹהִים גַּן בְּעֵדֶן”, אַף אַתֶּם כְּשֶׁנִכְנָסִין לָאָרֶץ לֹא תִתְעַסְּקוּ אֶלָּא בְּמַטָּע תְּחִלָּה, הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב: כִּי תָבֹאוּ אֶל הָאָרֶץ וּנְטַעְתֶּם.

Rabbi Yochanan ben Shimon began, “‘After the Lord your God shall you walk’ (Deuteronomy 12:5). But is it possible for a human of flesh and blood to walk after the Holy One, blessed be He?… And you say, ‘And (not only you should walk after Him but also) to Him shall you cling?’ But rather, the Holy One, blessed be He, from the very beginning of the creation of the world, occupied Himself with planting first. Hence it is written (Genesis 2:8), ‘And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden.’ You also, when you enter into the land, only occupy yourselves with plantation first. Hence it is written, ‘When you shall come to the land.”

We are told that Rav Kook was invited to participate in a festive tree planting. Everything was prepared in advance, to show respect to the great chief rabbi: the sapling was in plastic wrap, there was a new shovel, the hole already dug in the ground. But Rav Kook instead, set the shovel aside and started digging by hand, kissing each clump of dirt. For our sages of old, likewise, planting trees in the Land of Israel was not only a nice, environmental thing to do, but directly connected to being in G-d’s image and following in His footsteps.

Shabbat Shalom.

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1 Response to A Vignette, a “Full-Moon” & Trees

  1. Shira Gordon says:

    Thanks for the heads up on the new TV show. I will check it out.

    Planting trees, and being involved in nature ( watching kids grow ) is a divine endeavor. We may influence the outcome a little by modifying the environment, but the growth is inherent – בפנים and a divine process.

    Shabbat Shalom.

    Sent from my iPhone


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