Planting Smart

August 31, 2019 at 2:50 AM , , ,

כִּי הָאָדָם עֵץ הַשָּׂדֶה – דברים כ, יט

“…Is the tree of the field a man…” (Devarim 20:19)

Translated literally, this verse is asking a rhetorical question: is the tree a human being? Why then should a tree be wantonly destroyed even when waging a war against the inhabitants of the city?

We find, however, that the Talmud interprets this statement as a matter of fact, saying, indeed the tree of the field is like a man.

One important lesson that must be derived from this comparison is the care which must be taken when dealing with the early beginnings of the tree, or in the analogy, the education of a child. A gash made in a fully grown tree is undesirable, but will not devastate the tree’s future. The tree is already sturdy and robust enough to recover from the wound, and continue to grow healthily and fruitfully. When dealing with a seed or young sapling, however, even the smallest scrape scars the tree for life – possibly even ruining its prospects of ever growing straight and tall.

Planting Smart

The same is true of the education of children. If compromised standards are undesirable even for adults, then in the education of children such compromises are utterly devastating. To raise a generation of Jews that are spiritually fit, we must ensure that our children receive a healthy and undiluted Jewish education already – and specifically – from the youngest age. The positive long-term effects of even the smallest measure of improvement in the area of Jewish education, justify every possible effort in this direction.

—Likutei Sichos vol. 1, p. 82; Igros Kodesh vol. 2, p. 82

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