February 5, 2023 by Lazer Brody
A “Tree People”? What does that mean?
We recite a beautiful prayer during the Mussaf service on Sabbath and holidays:
“May it be Your will, O Lord our G-d and G-d of our fathers, that You bring us up in joy to our Land and plant us within our borders. And there, we shall perform before You our obligatory sacrifices, the daily ones [“Temidim”] in order and the additional ones [“Musafim”] according to Halacha.”
Something catches the eye. The Men of the Great Assembly codified our liturgy. They made up a panel of 120 prophets and sages. Among them were Ezra, Nehemiah, Mordecai, Daniel, Simon the Just and the prophets Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. They chose the term “plant us” within our borders rather than “settle” us within our borders or “place” us within our borders,. Why?
There is a vital intrinsic message in our sages’ choice of terms.
The Torah says that “man is a tree in the field” (Deuteronomy 20:19).
Did you ever stop to think why the best peaches in the USA come from Georgia yet the best apples come from Washington State? Each respective tree has its preferred climate where it thrives best. By the same token, great wines come from California and upstate New York, from Italy, Spain and France. Yet, there’s one place on earth where the vines flourish like nowhere else…
As an agricultural graduate and a former tree farmer, I can assure you that the best apples, peaches, grapes and wines all come from Israel. Israel is a tree-fruit haven.
The Zohar tells us that the Land of Israel is a soul haven too. It’s where the soul thrives best. The Gemara in Tractate Kesuvas calls Israel “The Land of Emuna” because one feels Divine providence much more clearly here in Israel than abroad, where everything seems to operate according to natural law.
We can now understand the wording of the Mussaf prayer: The Jewish People are in exile, both outside the borders of the Land of Israel and within today’s Israel. Why? We lack our Holy Temple with the revealed Divine Presence. Today, the HJewish People are like trees planted in a less-than-optimal climate. We cannot thrive this way.
We yearn to be a “planted people”, a nation in its God-given borders, where our souls – both individual and national – blossom. As such, we pray to Hashem to plant us within our borders, to ingather the exiles and bring us to our rebuilt Holy Land. We need our Holy Temple and the reign of Moshiach. This is why we plant trees on Tu B’Shvat, especially in the Land of Israel. We do our utmost to invoke Divine mercy and compassion so that our Supreme Master Gardener will plant us within our borders of our holy Promised Land, speedily and in our days, amen! Happy Tu B’Shvat!
Here’s your amazing opportunity to plant fruit trees in the Land of Israel.