Sunday, May 1, 2011

THE TREE OF LIFE- Tomer Devorah

personal note: I apologize for not blogging sooner. From now on, I will keep the blogs shorter so that I can keep you up to date with these meaningful and necessary lessons from Rabbi Miller's course on Tomer Devorah. Thank you for being a follower!

The Tree of Life-Eitz Chaim
Tomer Devorah= the Date Palm Tree of Devorah

The time of year has come to meditate on one of HaShem's most glorious creations... trees. Now is the time to go outside and look at the trees.

Notice the strong roots of a tree which anchor it to the ground keeping it straight and stable. Within the root system, is the soil from which water can be absorbed. This is also where the tree absorbs the nutrients and chemicals to produce what is required for it's growth, development and repair.

Even though the root is invisible, it has four functions that are vital to the life of the tree:
1) absorption of nutrients
2) anchoring it to the ground
3) storage of food and nutrients
4) prevention from erosion

The Date Palm is unique. It's root system possesses these functions, however it does so much more. The date palm tree is the Tree of Life. From HaShem's compassion, He created this tree to provide all the most necessary needs for human existence. It symbolized the sweetness of the Land of Milk and Honey and allowed life to be sustained.

This is the tree of the Torah. It is the palm tree that satisfied the basic needs of the Jewish people. The dates were eaten, the juices were fermented into wine, the trunk was used as timber for construction and the palm leaves were used for furniture (for beds, brooms, mats, ropes and baskets). It was the perfect supplier of one's basic needs; food, shelter and medicine. When the Promised Land is referred to as The Land of milk and honey it refers to the date palm.

It is the Tree of Life, the Tree of HaShem. He constantly allows us to absorb the nutrients He provides for us. He keeps us anchored to the ground. HaShem constantly provides food to sustain us. And if properly maintained, we will be able to withstand the forces of nature (and life that constantly come at us) and He will prevent us from spiritual erosion, even though our branches turn brown, fall and wither away. He continues to hold us in place by one unique aspect of the tree... our sweet root, our essence.

Hidden beneath the surface, our root is invisible. The only way to see the sweetness of our root, is to look beneath the surface. When we do, we will see the Divine Light. It lets us know, that HaShem is there... holding our roots in place, keeping us grounded, stable and nourished. As we learn (through the teachings of Tomer Devorah by Rabbi Miller) to see our own invisible roots, we will discover just how sweet they truly are. It is there that we will also be able to see the Divine Light of HaShem.

Our task is to keep returning to our roots. This gives us the spiritual vision to see beneath the surface of our selves and others. Each one of us has a sweet root. Although, our trunk has aged and our branches may begin to wither causing us to move farther away from our sweet root; we must struggle to stay connected to our sweet root, our essence. Each one of us is the Palm Tree of Devorah, each one of us is a Tree of Life.

When we discover our sweetness; we discover HaShem. The more we live connected to the Tree of Life, the more we connect to the Divine Light.

Another unique characteristic of the palm tree is that it is the only tree that can withstand the strongest forces; hurricane force winds, tropical rainstorms and the wildest weather conditions. No matter what external forces come at it-the palm tree simply sways with the winds.* The strong winds and rain may try their hardest, but the palm tree stays connected to its sweetest root. It sways with the winds using their force as music to choreograph their rhythmic dance. Nothing can break their connection to their sweet root.

The lessons of Tomer Devorah tell us, we too, have a sweet root. HaShem is holding our essence in place. As the external forces come at us- trying to knock us over and coaxing us to lose our place, to break or to fall apart- they will not succeed, as long as we continuously return to the sweet root that HaShem holds in place for us. It's the place that can nourish, nurture and fulfill all our needs. It is the place within us where the Divine Light lives. We simply must stay connected to knowing just how sweet our roots are. Not only do we possess the sweetest roots, for very person with whom we interact, also has their own sweet root.

The Palm Tree of Devorah, the sweet date palm is teaching us- week after week, day by day- we too possess the same qualities as the date palm. We have the strength to withstand the hurricane force winds of the yetzer hara. We have the ability to bend and sway with the external forces that come at us. All we have to do is continue to return to the invisible sweetness that lies beneath the surface, our rock solid and sweet roots being held in place for us by the Divine Light of HaShem.

* Since I've lived in Miami for many years, I have been through several severe hurricanes. It is quite amazing to watch the palm trees sway as the other trees literally topple to the ground from the forceful winds exposing the roots. The trunks of the palm tree are always in place never separating from their roots. The older palm fronds fall to the ground but the trunk is flexible and bends with the wind remaining always connecting to their roots.

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