From Sapling to Tree

Friday, 10 February, 2017 - 12:39 pm

This Shabbat is the 15th of Shevat, known as the New Year for trees. Of course we celebrate for/with them, because, as the Torah points out, our lives mirror trees in many ways. You start with a seed, which, with cultivation becomes a seedling. After further nurturing the seedling develops into a sapling. Finally, with additional care, the sapling becomes a mature tree.

A human being goes through similar stages. Starting as a fetus it then is born as an infant, followed by the various phases of childhood, and then ultimately the baby becomes an adult. As with a tree, each stage of a person’s development requires care and nurturing. A Jewish child, in addition to cultivating the physical, emotional and moral developments of life, must also have the nurturing of the spirit – the Yiddishkeit. As we invest in our children and see them grow and develop into healthy, functioning, productive members of society and the Jewish people, this is called Nachas. The positive development of a child requires input from many angles, beginning with parents and family, continuing with educators, mentors and role models and including also the community and society. When the child is in a healthy and positive environment this contributes significantly to his or her growth as a person and a Jew.

This weekend our community has the opportunity of seeing one of our saplings becoming a tree. Yosef Yitzchok (Yitzi) Lew had his bris at Chabad House, followed by his upshernish, and we have seen him grow on a weekly basis in Shul on Shabbos. He attends Torah Academy, and I have had the pleasure of preparing him for his Bar Mitzvah.

It has been a treat to watch him grow up and become serious about Yiddishkeit before our very eyes. He has taken to Torah learning and spiritual growth like a fish in water. He has a passion for the Shul and our daily Minyan. (I hope he serves as an inspiration for others with his dedication to the daily Minyan.) He has discovered a love for Chassidus and the teachings of the Rebbe that burns like a fire in his heart. Yitzi is giving much nachas to his parents, grandparents, family and the whole community. My wish for him is that he be able to maintain this passion for everything good for many long and healthy years. Mazel Tov!

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin


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