Let me connect the dots. Tu B’Shevat is the 15th of the Hebrew month of Shevat, the new year for the trees (February 4, 2015). The sap – life force – begins to flow in the trees on Tu B’Shevat. How does this connect with my Dad?
Rooted in the ground, the strength of the tree depends upon the depth of its roots. Roots are the source, and as long as a tree is connected to its source, it grows. Like trees, we humans need roots, something that anchors us. When we’re given the foundation, we grow into healthy, strong adults. Eventually we send out branches, and sometimes drop a few acorns along the way. Like the tree’s branches, we continually reach upward.
Dad’s tree started in Brooklyn, NY – yes, a tree does grow in Brooklyn! His family nurtured him and he sent down deep roots. Those roots anchored him through the storms of WWII (European theatre), his college days, marriage, fatherhood (we were easy kids, right?), businessman, and community leader. Dad kept reaching higher educationally, socially, and spiritually.
He studied with his Men’s Torah Study group, even from his wheelchair. He enjoyed the visits from his family and friends, even when he could only sit in his recliner.
Dad could always make conversation and continued to be curious about the world – even when he couldn’t get out an enjoy it. A week before he passed away, I read him a business riddle from the newspaper. He thought about the clues and worked hard to solve it.
About a month or so ago, the roots shook and threatened to topple the tree. It almost keeled over prematurely. One if its branches (you know who you are–and thank you!) helped right the trunk. The tree remained attached to its roots for another few weeks.
Then slowly, perceptibly, the trunk severed itself from its roots. The core of the tree didn’t make it to Tu B’Shevat this year. But the essence did. Now it’s those acorns that need to deepen their roots, send out branches and reach to the heights.
Thanks, Dad, for showing us how!
May these words be a merit for the elevation of the soul of Yoel Meir ben Simcha.
Information about trees and Tu B’Shevat from teleconference with Rebbetzin Tehila Jaeger, Feb. 3, 2015