Fulfilling Prophecy in Modern Times
Planting trees in Israel is one of the greatest activities that our generation is privileged to be able to do. According to Rabbi Tuly Weisz, founder of Israel365, “Planting trees in the Holy Land is not just an agricultural or gardening activity, but a prophetic action where with our own hands, we have the opportunity to fulfill biblical prophecy by helping transform barren desert land into a “Garden of Eden”. Planting fruit trees in Israel has both a fascinating history in Biblical and traditional Jewish sources, as well as a crucial place in modern history since the return of the People of Israel to the Land of Israel in the last two centuries.
According to the Jewish tradition, planting trees in Israel and the rebirth of the land is an essential part of the messianic process. Israel365 provides many ways you can get involved and plant your very own tree in the Land of Israel.
Biblical Connections to Tree Planting
Upon entering the Land of Israel in Biblical times, the ancient Israelites planted trees. The Torah compares man to a tree “כי האדם עץ השדה” – ‘For man is a tree of the field.’ (Deuteronomy 20:19), and to this very day, planting a tree is symbolic of planting our roots in the Land of Israel.
An ancient Jewish custom currently making a comeback is to
plant a tree when a child is born: a cedar for boys, with the wish that the child will grow to resemble the tall and upright cedar tree, and a cypress for girls, with the hope that the girls will be graceful and fragrant like the cypress tree. Later in their lives, the branches from the cypress and cedar of a bride and groom are used to make the chuppah (canopy) for their wedding ceremony.
In an 8th century collection of Midrashic Jewish literature, the mundane chore of planting a tree is raised up to an elevated spiritual status: ‘If while holding a sapling in your hand you are told that the Messiah is about to arrive, first plant the sapling and then go out to receive the Messiah’.”
In the Talmud it is written that when the Land of Israel gives forth fruit abundantly, it is a sure sign that the redemption is coming. Indeed, in Israel today, the many beautiful fruit trees and vibrant agriculture is a powerful miracle and clear sign that we are living in prophetic times.
Modern Day Miracle
In recent years, tree planting has taken on multiple purposes and the trees themselves offer different benefits to the land.
The Eucalyptus tree, one of the more iconic trees in Israel, has become a boon to Israel’s honey industry. And in Bat Ayin, Israel365 has planted groves of olive trees that are being prepared to produce oil for the Third Temple.
Tree planting has even become a popular activity for tourists visiting Israel who appreciate the opportunity to connect with the land.
But even more significant is how trees are even being used in Israel for security purposes. Over the past few years, a new initiative was born to implement a forest project that would provide some kind of security buffer for the Israeli communities located on the border with the Gaza Strip.
With so many important uses of trees in Israel, it is only natural that there is a Jewish holiday dedicated solely to trees – Tu B’shvat. Tu B’Shvat is considered the birthday of trees in Israel, and it is indeed a day when many trees are planted as many groups head out to the fields with saplings to beautify the land.