The Giving Tree

We are planting trees every day. However, we rarely ponder the impact of our actions.

A word is a seed and an action is a deed.

Every encounter whether immediately or in the future, possesses the potential to bear fruit and a blessing.

The following story illustrates this idea.

Yesterday, a fellow approached me at a shiva house and shared that he was moved to send his daughter an email based on a message from a eulogy I delivered on Friday. At the funeral, I shared about my last conversation with Mort Shapiro a few days before his passing. He sang the Alenu prayer together with me and lifted up his head ever so slightly to bow as he recited the words acknowledging his submission to the melech – the king of the universe.

This final gesture captured an eternal moment of Mort’s life.

When we are born we are given a Hebrew name and when we return our souls to G-d, we are asked whether we lived up to the meaning and mission of our name. Mort’s Hebrew name is EliMelech translated as “My G-d the King” and his prayer reflected his meeting his Maker with the subliminal affirmation that he had lived up to his Name.

This father reminded his daughter about her namesakes to inspire her to embody their courage and conviction as she navigates the tides of college and career.

Think about the sequence of events for a moment….

From Mort to me to a family friend to a young woman embarking on her life…where does it start and where will the inspiration end….we do not know.

Yet, like the tree whose blossoms bear fruit and seeds are carried in the wind to the far corners of the earth, our words and actions can potentially reverberate for generations. I am always amazed when someone tells me how they remember a conversation from 40 years ago like it was yesterday or never forget when someone was there for them at a crucial time in their lives.

This Tu B’Shvat meditate on the significance of the Giving Tree. How do we invest in others and what seeds can we plant every day of our lives? We will never fully know the fruits and blessings they will yield.

Rabbi Daniel Cohen

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