Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Deeper the Roots, the Stronger the Tree

By HaRav Dov Begon
Rosh HaYeshiva, Machon Meir

The Prophet Isaiah instructed Israel in how to take consolation and come to terms with the difficulties besetting them as they set out on their winding, uphill, pock-marked journey lasting two thousand years. He said, “Consider the rock from which you were hewn, the pit from which you were dug out. Consider Abraham your father and Sarah who bore you. For he was but one when I called him, and I blessed him and increased him” (Isaiah 51:1-2). 

Abraham was one of a kind in his generation. He publicized belief in the L-rd, G-d of the universe, by means of his family, his generation and the power of his faith. Ultimately he became the father of many nations. All of mankind was influenced by him, and a great and holy nation emerged from him. And just as he was alone amongst many, and succeeded, so have the Jewish People always withstood all of their attackers, and they shall continue to do so, like a mighty boulder or a tree with deep roots. 

Consider the Matriarch Sarah. Sarah was born sterile and she was also very old. Yet with G-d’s help she miraculously gave birth. The same goes for the Jewish People in their remarkable state of being and their miraculous development (Malbim on Isaiah 51:1-2). We have to consider and ponder the rock from which we were hewn. The Torah states, “For I see this nation from the mountain tops, and gaze on it from the heights” (Numbers 23:9), regarding which Rashi comments, “I look at their origins and roots, and I see that they are as strongly founded as those rocks and mountains symbolizing the patriarchs and matriarchs.”

In order to apprise the strength of the tree, we have to examine its roots. If those roots are large and deep enough, the tree will stand so firm that no wind on earth will uproot it. In the same way, in order to know how hard a stone is, we have to examine the quarry from which it was hewn. 

Today, in these difficult times, we have to examine our roots. We have to learn about ourselves on the pattern of nature. We have to find out about the special characteristics and conduct of the patriarchs and matriarchs, people of faith and noble character who clung to G-d in all the complex and changing situations that they faced. They are the roots of us all, and by following in their path we will continue to grow and flourish and to produce sweet fruits. Then Isaiah’s words (51:3) will be fulfilled: “For the L-rd shall comfort Zion. He will comfort all her waste places. He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the L-rd. Joy and gladness shall be found in it, thanksgiving and the voice of melody.” 

Looking forward to salvation,
Shabbat Shalom.

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