Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tu B'Shvat-Trees

There's a beautiful piece of poetry about a man who took a walk outside and saw a tree with delicious tasting fruits. The man gave the tree a wonderful blessing. Instead of blessing the fruit tree to bear sweet tasting fruits or to give off a pleasant shade, he wished upon the tree to have offspring, fruits, that are just like the tree itself. In essence, he was blessing the tree that there should be many more fruits like him, with all the positive qualities of the tree, not just replicating one aspect of it's goodness.

Someone composed the "chorus" of the story and made it into a beautiful song. 

Ilan, Ilan, bamah avarechicha...

Although many people have taken the message of the song and applied it specifically to parents-blessing them that their offspring should be as wonderful and as special as they are, I want to take this parable to a whole different level.

Ki Ha'adam Eitz Hasadeh-each one of us is compared to a tree. Just like there are many trees outside, there are many people in this world. And we meet different people at different points in our lives. Those who we come in contact with are looking at us, watching us and being affected by our shade-by the positive energy we give off. 

Do YOU realize that? 

Do you realize what power you have? 

And how you can impact other people by the way you interact with them?

Imagine if this blessing was showered upon you. That all those who come in contact with you should learn from your positive character traits, from your good and giving heart, from your excitement for another act of kindness...would you act differently? Wouldn't you want to be the best person you can be...if you knew others were learning from you and acting just like you?

You are like a tree.

The people around you bask in your shade. They are watching you, making observations and following your lead.

Each one of you has the power to impact those around you for the good!

You don't know who is watching you with wide eyes. Who around you looks up to you and wants to be like you...because of the good they see in you that makes them wish they can be like you too.

*  *  *

I took another message from this beautiful blessing bestowed upon this tree.

I think about my brother Shalom a"h and about how he spent the last summer of his life. He was in camp Stolin, having a good time-just like all the other boys who were there with him. But he did do some extra special things, things that were highly unusual for a boy his age. He said tikkun chatzos every night. He got up early every morning, went to the mikvah and then learned with a chavrusa before davening.

I think about the last day of his life. He was extremely tired because on motzei shabbos nachamu, he stayed up to clean up and organize the siddurim, the tables and the chairs after all the men had finished dancing. His rebbe said that Shalom stood throughout the morning seder, leaning over his shtender. He didn't sit down because he did not want to fall asleep and he learned with an extra measure of excitement. Did he know what was coming? What the rest of the day would bring?

I think about the last few moments of my brother's life. 

He was...up in a tree.

Marveling at the beauty of the borei olam. Looking at the scenic lake from his spot high up in that tree.

And then he fell. 

This was Hashem's plan. 

I think about my brother and I think about the song. And I say, Shalom, I give you a bracha. My wish is, shekol netiyos shenot'im mimcha yi'hiyu k'moscha-that all the children who were named after you should be just like you.

You already have three nephews who carry on your name.

One of them is my son. 

I know the day will come when he will be old enough to listen to stories about you and mature enough to understand what a special uncle he had.

And my deepest desire is...that my son should be like you. That he should have that amazing mix that you had. 

You were so good with your hands, always able to take things apart and put them back together in the most creative ways. I remember how you took apart a broken food processor and used the motor and some other small pieces to create an alarm clock. How you took the inside of your hat box and covered it with duct tape so it shouldn't get ruined by rain-and attached it to the back of your bike so you'd be able to switch from your helmet to your hat when you went off your bike and into yeshiva, shul or a store. You were so unbelievably creative.

You were so warm and loving to your nieces and nephews. You loved kids and were so gentle with them.

You were so much fun to be around. Your smile lit up the room...and our house.

You knew when to be serious but you also knew how to tell a great joke and get everyone to laugh.

There is so much about you that cannot be captured over here. But I know you...and I know that I wish that my son, who carries on your name, will grow up to be just like you...just like the uncle he never knew.

Shalom, yehi ratzon...shekol netiyos shenot'im mimcha yi'hiyu k'moscha.


  1. Someone once told me that it seems like Hashem gives children who are going to live a shorter life an extra measure of intuition, an extra maturity, an extra something - to be able to really want to do mitzvos while they are alive. I found that so much more comforting than how it seems - that Hashem takes the special ones. It used to scare me. If a child is extra special, Hashem will take him early. But after hearing that, I see it differently. The child was already meant to die young. So Hashem gave him that extra something so he makes the most out of the short life he has. It sounds like this is how it was for your brother. He sounds so so special.

    I hope your desire is fulfilled - that your son be like your brother. How can he not when he has such a special mother? (And he already IS pretty creative :).)

  2. Anon-thank you. I find that thought so comforting and it's so good to hear it again. Knowing that this was the way it was supposed to be, that he was meant to die young, and that Hashem gave him the tools he needed and the ability to accomplish so much in such a short time brings a strong measure of comfort. It's still hard but it feels good to know that. To know that this is the way it was supposed to be. And that he was given something extra to be able to do whatever he had to in the small amount time he was put into this world.
    Because...if the special kids are taken early, why would we want our kids to be so special if we'll lose them? (I know...that's not a very happy thought to think.) We want our kids to be the best they can. But we want to have them close to us for as long as we live.

    Amen...thank you. I hope so. I'm already starting to see some of Shalom in Shalom Baruch. It's...nice. :)


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