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Why is man called a tree?

by Rabbi Yossi Marcus

  

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The human being is a miniature world. And just as the world is made up of four elements: human, animal, vegetable and mineral, so too every person contains within himself the human version of these four elements.

The human aspect refers to his intellect, that which makes him distinct from other creatures. Vegetable, which in Hebrew is referred to as tzomeach, “that which grows,” corresponds to the emotions, which experience growth and expansion. You may have an emotion towards something that’s on a low-burner and then when you think about it the volume is turned up. Same emotion, just bigger. Like a cucumber.

When we say that man is a tree, we mean that he is defined by the vegetable kingdom within himself—his emotions. To be a real man it is not enough for him develop his intellectual, “human,” self. Intellect by itself is clinical and detached. A person can write a book on the virtue of being patient but it is all worthless if he is not indeed patient, if his wisdom has not filtered down into his emotions.

Man is defined by his emotions—by his task to direct the emotions with the wisdom of the intellect.


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