Monday, 7 February 2011

The Winter Jew

You may have heard that Tu B'Shevat - just two weeks ago - is the time when fruit begins to grow on the trees. Here in Israel, it's still very much winter. Take a look at the picture above… What do you see? There are some wonderful buildings – apartments. Did you see the lamp post? If you look carefully, you'll probably even notice the one side of a bench. But if you're really observant you'll notice that the photographer had meant for us to see something else. The beautiful tree! Did you see it?!

It's nearly 13 feet tall already! It stands proudly on its own! It has the most beautiful branches and luscious leaves growing from it. As for it's tasty fruit, you've never tasted anything quite like it! But then again… you probably didn't notice it! You probably never saw anything more than some twigs standing, barely able to support themselves. Your attention – more focused on the surrounding park area than the subject of the photo. To you, there wasn't much more than the start to the making of a barbeque in front of your eyes – if that. Nothing much more.

But it's all there… the leaves, the might of this tree, and even possibly some fruit! Apparently – something was standing in the way of our eyes. It's winter! But wait around for just another few more weeks. They say that spring is on the way. In just a short while this "pathetic" looking creature will be turning into something quite marvellous. By the time the start of summer comes, you probably won't even be able to recognise it! Best get in while everyone else has their attention diverted… take another look and you'll see a beautiful creation of G-d. Praise G-d and even thank the tree for the beauty it will soon share with us. At the very least it will provide the park with some physical beauty. It might even provide some shade when the heat waves of the summer begin. Then you'll probably be wishing you had seen its true beauty when you had the chance. Well of course – whether you choose to appreciate now – or only when it's real beauty comes out – you'll still be able to say "thank you." But wouldn't it be nice to be a little less superficial in life?! Wouldn't it be nice to be one step ahead of the rest? To be just a little bit of a deeper person in this world than a shallow twig. 

You see, you're just looking at the outside skeleton – which will actually just end up being the inside skeleton soon. Then, suddenly – everything that this tree really is will be clearly visible to all. You can be one step ahead of the rest though. Every time you look at a tree like this, you can already see its true beauty – because you know that at the right time, it will spread out it's leaves and surround the entire area of grass with its true splendour.

The reason that tree seems so sad, so empty, so plain and so much so - that it has nothing which to give the world – is because it's winter. Actually all its beauty is still there, it's just that everything going on outside it is so cold, that it's unable to truly be itself! But you wait… when spring comes and everything around it starts to warm up, it will too. Then you'll realise what it was really all about.

That tree – is the winter Jew. He most often looks like nothing much at all. Seems to contribute nothing to anybody. Even looks a little out of place – perhaps even ugly! Looks like he can't even support himself. But there's probably a reason why too… it's winter all around. So long as his outside sources are filled with such ice towards him, he probably won't want to come out much. He'd prefer to keep to himself. But wait till the spring… then you'll see just who he is.

Have you ever felt barren, empty, ugly and just old and plain?! Never mind what others think… it's just their way of blowing some ice around that's holding back who you really are. But inside you're still filled with fruit, with luscious leaves and long beautiful branches. Your roots, still planted firmly in the ground (or at least the heavens!) You know it… but at some point in time it must show. Sometimes, it just takes a little bit of a warmer environment before it can all come out.

But don't forget, if at some times you feel parched with nothing to offer, you're still the same person. All that good stuff is still very much inside you. It can never disappear. Every Jew is indeed a portion of G-d from above. He can never change, because that's what he is. It's only that sometimes… it's just winter.

Not for nothing does the Torah teach, "Man is a tree of the field." (Deuteronomy 20:19)

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