Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “One of the basic sources of modern man’s suffering”

Many verses indicate that there is a connection between the tree and man, often comparing them to one another:

“For the [existence of] man is the tree of the field;”

“He is like a tree planted beside streams of water;”

“He will be like a lone tree in the desert.”

“Like a tree planted”

It appears, then, that much can be learned about man, his soul, and his manner of worship by observing trees and their growth.

Tu BiShevat, the New Year for the trees, when we focus on our bond with the Land of Israel and our love for it and its plant life, is an opportunity to focus on learning from the trees.

One element of comparison between trees and man relates to the tree’s connection to the earth.

Just as the tree grows in the earth and is like one of its creations, man similarly has “soil” from which he draws sustenance.

And just as a tree that is detached from the earth will surely die, so, too, man – the individual as well as the community – cannot survive in detachment, as a self-contained creature.

One of the basic sources of modern man’s suffering is his lack of social belonging.

The personal loneliness that many feel and the general sense of alienation that people experience nowadays are expressions of the fact that man has ceased to be “planted in the earth.”

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz