The Song of the Trees: Part 2

Dear Friends,

As we have discussed previously, the world was not created for the sake of the human being's selfish gratification, but for the sake of his spiritual mission: to serve, elevate, and safeguard everything. When the human being fulfills this spiritual mission, then the earth will flourish like the Garden of Eden. If, however, the human being neglects his mission by acting unjustly to the earth and its creatures, then he can create severe damage which he will not be able to repair on his own. An allusion to this danger appears in the following verse: "Consider the deeds of the Just One else how can one repair what he had made crooked?" (Ecclesiastes 7:13) The commentary of the Metzudas David explains that there is severe damage caused by the human being which only the Creator will be able to repair. As the Midrash on the above verse states:

In the hour when the Holy One, blessed be He, created the first human being, He took him and let him pass before all the trees of the Garden of Eden and said to him: "See my works, how fine and excellent they are! Now all that I have created, for you have I created it. Think upon this and do not destroy and desolate My World, for if you corrupt it, there is no one to set it right after you." (Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:28)

Human beings will not be able to find anyone in their midst who can fully repair the beautiful world that they have corrupted and destroyed. In the messianic age, however, the Compassionate Creator of all life will intervene to repair the world, and "all the trees of the forest will sing with joy" (I Chronicles 16:33).

Although the Compassionate One will intervene to repair the severe damage that we are unable to repair, we are not to remain passive; in fact, we can merit this Divine intervention through a process of "teshuva" spiritual return and renewal. According to the Torah, we can find our way back to the Garden when we fulfill the original mandate which was given to us in the Garden: "to serve it and to protect it" (Genesis 2:15). Our sages say that the Divine mandate to serve the Garden is a prototype for all the mitzvos of the Torah which enable us to improve and elevate the world including ourselves; moreover, the Divine mandate to protect the Garden is a prototype for all the mitzvos of the Torah which prevent us from damaging and degrading the world - including ourselves (Tikunei Zohar 55). We can therefore fulfill the original Divine mandate which was given to us in the Garden through all the mitzvos of the Torah.

We are to find the way back to the Garden through fulfilling all the mitzvos of the Torah in the Land of Israel - the Land of the Torah:

"If you will follow My statutes and guard My mitzvos, and you will perform them; then I will provide your rains in their season, and the land will give its produce and the tree of the field will give its fruit." (Leviticus 26:3,4)

According to Midrash Toras Kohanim (Sifra), the above passage alludes to the tradition that when we study and fulfill the precepts of the Torah in the Land of Israel, the produce and fruits of our land will be similar in quality and quantity to the produce and fruits in the Garden of Eden. For example, all trees will once again bear fruit. Regarding this renewal, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch writes, "This will constitute a beginning and a means to what will ultimately be restored to all humankind" (Commentary to Leviticus 23:6).

When we welcome the arrival of Shabbos, we remember the above Divine promise when we chant the following words from the Book of Psalms:

"The heavens will be glad and the earth will rejoice; the sea and its fullness will roar. The field and all creatures within it will exult; then all the trees of the forest will sing with joy - before the Compassionate One, for He will have arrived, He will have arrived to judge the earth." (Psalm 96:11,12)

Have a Good and Sweet Shabbos,
Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen (See below)

Related Teachings:

The Prophet Micah describes, how after the coming of the Messiah, "Torah will go forth from Zion and the word of the Compassionate One from Jerusalem" (Micah 4:2). Micah then describes how this spiritual renewal will lead to an era of world peace and renewal, and he adds: "They will sit, each person under his vine and under his fig tree, and none will make them afraid, for the mouth of the Compassionate One, God of the hosts of Creation, has spoken" (Micah 4:3,4). The classical biblical commentators, Radak and Ibn Ezra, explain that the peaceful and pastoral vision of "each person under his vine and under his fig tree" includes all humankind.

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