YomTov, Vol. II, # 27
Tu B’Shvat – An Investment In Our Future
by Rabbi Yehudah Prero
In Vayikra (19:23) we find the following commandment: “And when you will come into the land and (you will) plant any tree for food…(for) three years it (the fruit) shall be restricted to you, it shall not be eaten. This verse describes the commandment known as “Orla,” which forbids the consumption of a tree’s fruits during its first three years.
The Yalkut Shimoni explains that this verse is teaching us a lesson about responsibility. The Yalkut explains that if each individual knew when his or her life was going to end, the world would fall into a state of disarray. People would not build. They would not plant. They would say “I am going to die tomorrow. Why should I bother exerting any effort that is only for the benefit of others!” For this reason, mankind was not given the knowledge of their date of demise. Now, people will be willing to prepare for the future. Being they might very well be part of that future, people will be ready to exert effort on something which they assume they will be around to benefit from.
It was because of the dangers of a similar attitude that the commandment of Orla was phrased in its particular fashion. G-d was telling the nation of Israel “You will arrive at the land of Israel. You will find it filled with beautiful fruits and abundant crops – all of the best. You should not be satisfied with this. You can not just sit back and enjoy what others have done in the past. Just as others have toiled in the past so that you can presently enjoy the fruits of their labor, you must in turn plant for the future, for your children and generations to come.” For this reason, the verse says “And when you will come into the land and _you will_ plant any tree for food….” The part of the verse concerning the planting of trees is not merely a preface to what should be done after planting; it is a commandment itself – you will plant trees! G-d was concerned that the nation might be swayed by a sense of egotism: “I have what I need, so why should I work on that which only others will benefit from?” The planting of trees is a perfect demonstration that egotism has not set in. Fruits do not appear instantly, and effort is needed to assure that any tree bears good fruit. Planting trees is an investment for the future.
On Tu B’Shvat, many have the custom to plant trees. The planting of trees indeed beautifies our land. As we mentioned in the last post, our trees are a valued gift from G-d. However, trees also provide us with an important lesson: it is our responsibility to prepare for the future, and to assure that generations to come can do the same. Whether we do or do not plant trees on Tu B’Shvat, we should remember that we are responsible for the future of the next generation. We must not allow ourselves to become blinded by our own self-worth. We should merit to see our actions bear beautiful fruits for years to come!
Check out all of the posts on Tu B’Shvat. Head over to http://www.torah.org/learning/yomtov/ to access the YomTov Page. Then click on the icon for the holiday of your choice.
For questions, comments, and topic requests, please write to Rabbi Yehudah Prero.