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Plant Your Tree in Israel

by Rabbi Zalman Abraham


Library » Holidays » Tu B'shvat | Subscribe | What is RSS?


At the start of the first millennium:

The land flowing with milk and honey. A producer of olives and exporter of olive oil to the entire civilized world. Vineyards, winepresses and tall towering palms trees dripping with the honey of date clusters. Orchards blooming with flowers that will soon become pomegranates and figs. Yearly pilgrimages of ancient Jews to Jerusalem, laden with baskets filled with the season’s first fruits to thank G-d for the bountiful supply. Such was typical in Israel during the Temple era, when Israel’s population comprised of between one and five million Jews happily residing in their homeland.

1800 years later:

There are only about 10,000 Jews in the entire land of Israel. Mark Twain, on his visit to the Holy Land in 1867, describes in his book - The Innocents Abroad1 – the site he witnessed there “... A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds... a silent mournful expanse.... a desolation.... we never saw a human being on the whole route.... hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.

When Israel is inhabited by Jews, its agriculture flourishes, and when they leave, it reverts back to scorched desert land, barren of life and growth, and with their return, its land sprouts once again
Today, over five million Jews live in Israel, and its agriculture thrives, producing almost three million tons of fruit and vegetables every year. Israel’s forests now boast over 250 million trees. With the influx of Jews from throughout the Diaspora, Israel’s arid sand deserts have been transformed into luscious green pasture with rich soil, a stage for large-scale and high-tech agricultural developments.

An interesting phenomenon to study; when Israel is inhabited by Jews, its agriculture flourishes, and when they leave, it reverts back to scorched desert land, barren of life and growth, and with their return, its land sprouts once again.

Let us follow the Jewish people on a journey through history. Wherever there were large centers of Jewish population, the economy of their host country boomed. The timeline of Jewish history moves the major body of Jews from one superpower to the next. Rome, Turkey, Spain, Russia, Germany and America. It’s interesting to note that the Jews did not have easy lives per-say, and were often persecuted by their host country. However, when they left or were expelled, so was their host country removed from the world arena and hall of fame of economic superpowers.

The power of the Jew - is in his faith. The secret behind the success he brings to the world - is in his religion. There is a divine power hidden within the Jew, a part of G-d, that when unleashed, brings with it not only spiritual but material success as well.

Physically, we can plant trees in Israel, and spiritually we can plant a tree which is rooted deep within the Israel of our hearts - the firmly rooted, unswayable belief in one Almighty G-d. Every Mitzvah we do is another tree, another shoot of growth and energy that cultivates the spiritual growth of the Israel inside of us. As Jews, we have the power to plant forests within scorched desert land that thirstily yearns for truth and moral guidance. Tree by tree, every good deed cultivates the soil of the soul, arousing both spiritual awakening and material success.

For man is the tree of the field2 – plant your tree in Israel. Bring Judaism into your home and see how it will flourish.


  • 1. Pg. 361-362.
  • 2. Deuteronomy 20:19.


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Israel » Holy Land

(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Established by King David to be the eternal capital of Israel. Both Temples were built there, and the third Temple will be situated there when the Messiah comes.
1. Usually a reference to the Holy Temple which was/will be situated in Jerusalem. 1st Temple was built in 825 BCE and was destroyed in 423 BCE. The 2nd Temple was built in 350 BCE and was destroyed in 70 CE. The 3rd Temple will be built by the Messiah. 2. A synagogue.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.