How long does it take for a tree to grow?
Farmers are in the news these days, as we read of the courageous heroes in Eretz Yisrael who lock their tractors in the shed and allow their beloved fields to lie fallow for a full year. Yes, “keeping Shabbos” for a full year is quite an accomplishment that well deserves our admiration. If you think about it, though, we have much to learn from these workers of the land not only during the Shemittah sabbatical year, but also during the six years that precede it.
In our generation of instant gratification, when we’re used to popping our meals in the microwave, tossing our laundry in the dryer, and boiling up water for coffee in no time, how many of us would have the patience and steady faith to plant seeds, nurture them, pray for rain, fear the frost, and finally, after months of anticipation, reap the long-awaited harvest? If it’s a tree being planted, multiply that waiting time by years. Quite impressive, considering the fact that most of us find it hard to wait even the few minutes it takes to get a response to an email…
But actually, each of us is planting seeds all the time. Every one of those seeds will eventually sprout and bear fruit, but those results may be so long in coming that we don’t even dream of the connection. The process is under way, yet we are unaware. Every once in a while, though, Hashem gives us a glimpse into the process, and that opens our eyes. Consider the following true story (names have been changed), spanning twenty years.
Scene 1 (Twenty years ago): Ziva was in anguish about her dear friend Esty, whowas married for quite some years and didn’t yet have children. With each child that Ziva embraced, she felt a new stab of pain over her friend’s agonizing wait. Ziva decided to organize some of her friends and acquaintances to say Tehillim and learn two halachos a day of shmiras halashon for a set period of time, as a zechus for Esty and her husband. It wasn’t easy; people are busy and many hesitated to assume the responsibility, especially since most did not even know Esty personally, but after innumerable phone calls, Ziva had the program set up. Baruch Hashem, by the end of that year, after 12 years of marriage, Esty gave birth to a healthy baby girl!
Scene 2 (Fast forward to the present): Aliza’s son became engaged to a wonderful girl, Nechama Kahaneman. She was so thankful! At the vort, when Aliza was introduced to the kallah’s mother she suddenly realized why the family name had sounded so familiar all along. The mother, Esty Kahaneman, was the person Aliza had davened for years earlier, at her friend Ziva’s earnest request. In fact, she realized in amazement, after making some quick calculations, this kallah must be the miracle baby who was born, at least in part, thanks to her future mother-in-law’s tefillos!
With each deed, each word, we plant a seed, though we know not what we sow – nor what we will one day reap. But rest assured, no seed is carried away in the wind, and no word or deed is without impact – even if we harvest the crops only twenty, forty, or even eighty years down the line!