Thursday, April 17, 2008
The Blessing on Trees
For this entire month of Nisan there is a special blessing for fruit trees that are showing blossom (Birkat Ha’Ilanot). In The Holistic Haggadah I ask the question: why this blessing in this month? Surely it would be more appropriate in Shvat (two months ago) when we celebrate the Festival of Trees and the almond trees are carpeting the hillsides; or in Adar (last month) when the spring actually begins (at least in Israel) and the fruit trees are in full blossom? Why in Nisan? The answer is suggested that the month of Nisan focuses on the intergenerational chain of life more than at any time of the year: "And when the parents tell the child… and when the child asks the parent you shall tell them..." So it is for the trees as they prepare to give birth to their next generation. But deeper than just the parallels is the fact that we are dependent upon the trees for fruit and for photo-absorption of carbon dioxide and further, that if we abuse the "fruit of nature" we do so at our peril. As it tells in the Talmud: R. Hanina said: Shibhath, my son, did not pass away except for having cut down a fig tree before its time. (Baba Kama 91b).