Birthday of the Trees Roundtable Discussion Source Sheet
January 19, 2011 15 Shvat 5771
A story from Rabbi Yisrael of Chortokov
When a person takes a fruit in his hand, he should consider how it came into being: a seed planted in the earth, and because it disintegrates, becoming as nothing, it is able to sprout and grow into a tree that produces fruits. So, too, a person may only grow spiritually by coming as nothing. Although he may be virtuous and occupied with study, if he is proud, it is all worthless. Only if he considers himself as nothing will he be elevated spiritually to draw to himself holy sparks, and become a great tree.
What does the symbolism used here mean to you?
Do you resonate with the teachings here?
If so what stage in your growing do you feel you are?
A quote from the Qu’ran
And Allah hath caused you to grow as a growth from the earth, And afterward He maketh you return thereto, and He will bring you forth again, a [new] forth bringing. And Allah Hath made the earth a wide expanse for you that ye may thread the valley ways thereof (Surah 71:17-20).
How does this imagery place humans in relation to the earth?
Does this text change your relationship with the earth?
If neither of these texts resonated with you I invite you to explore with your partner where you see your connection, if any, to the earth.
He was astonished, and quite pleased, to come upon a magnificent banyan tree, right in the middle of the park. Surely this was a sign, he thought, with a bissle guilt, since he forbade himself from believing in signs. He cleared a site among the gnarled roots of the tree and sat down on the ground self-consciously. He tried crossing his legs into the lotus position, but gave up, and just closed his eyes instead.
He had been sitting there for some time, refusing to be disturbed by the footsteps, the voices, the occasional giggles, even the roar of a jet passing overhead. When he opened his eyes, he was greeted by a group of schoolchildren gathered around him. One of them flashed the mirror a final time into his eyes, another kicked dirt into his face, and then they all ran away laughing.
Wearily, Mr. Jalal got up and shook the mud out of his hair. As he limped bleary eyed towards the taxi-stand, he decided the world had become much too populated to be able to recreate the conditions for proper renunciation. Things are never as they used to be.
What are your “footsteps… voices and occasional giggles” that are distracting you from “meditating’?
What is your form of renunciation?
Do you agree with Mr. Jalal that this world has become to overpopulated?
A piece to consider
A tree (and most growing things) can be seen as a connector between the heaven and the earth in the most literal sense in that it receives its nutrients from both the stars (our sun) and the ground (through the roots). This holiday was intended for us to take a moment and consider the awesomeness of the world around us and to consider our place in it all.
I invite you to reflect either now or later on how you feel you are part of this system, and the ways that your actions on a day to day, and moment to moment basis affect the world around you.
Special thanks to all those who came out to make this talk what it was!