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THE LEMON TREE

Roy Neuberger - May. 18, 2018


In Israel we have a small garden behind our home. It has a border of soil, maybe two feet wide. Not much space, but there are beautiful flowers. My wife, bli eyen hara, understands plants, and this place looks like Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden) to me. Besides the flowers, there are a few trees. One is a lemon tree.

 

Please remember that this tree is planted in only a few feet of soil. Every year, delicate blossoms grow in abundance. Their aroma seems to emanate directly from Gan Eden.

 

If I tell you how many lemons grow on this tree, you may not believe it, but I am going to tell you anyway. So far this spring, we have picked about five hundred lemons! Yes, five hundred beautiful, heavy fruits filled with delicious juice.  Some were the size of oranges. We gave about one hundred and fifty to a tzedakah organization to feed hungry Jews, and there were still more left over for family and friends. And more are coming. There are green, young lemons and dozens or maybe hundreds of tiny fruits, smaller now than a pomegranate seed, as well as flowers that will with G-d’s help become fruits. 

 

I want to ask: how does this happen? How does a little tree, planted in a narrow border of earth, produce hundreds of lemons?

 

We say in bentching (the blessing after meals), “bamarom y’lamdu … On high may merit be pleaded … upon us ….” This seems to mean that in the Heavens a fountain of blessings is available to be poured down upon us. If Hashem wills it, bounty beyond measure can enter this world. I am reminded of the Aron Kodesh, the Holy Ark, whose dimensions are larger than the space allotted to it. There is neither enough soil for this tree nor enough space for it. Where do all these lemons come from? They must come directly from the Source of All Blessings, which is by definition beyond the material world.

 

On Shavuos, the Children of Israel stand at Mount Sinai, a dry place in a desert devoid of plant life, and crawling with poisonous creatures. There is no water and no shade. Yet, as the legions of Holy Jews encamped there, this mountain turned green. Water flowed. “Milifnai adon chuli aretz … Before the Presence of the Master, the earth trembled, before the presence of the G-d of Yaakov, Who turns the rock into a pond of water, the flint into a flowing fountain….” (Psalm  114) Then … the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe descended upon the mountain and gave to His treasured people the Torah, the laws governing the universe. He “descended” from the Highest Heavens to bestow endless blessing upon the world.

 

If you don’t think this can happen in today’s world, think about our lemon tree. The Master of the World comes down, even to this very day, and bestows endless blessing upon us. Physical limitations are no impediment to the will of the King of All Kings.

 

Moses was “kvat pe.” Presumably, someone with a speech impediment should be the last person on earth to transmit Hashem’s Torah to the entire world. Moses was the greatest communicator in history, and he couldn’t speak clearly! How could this be?

 

King David was “the mightiest of kings, the most pious of the pious, wisest among the wise, humble among the modest and the most glorious of poets who sang praise before G-d. Notwithstanding all this, no one suffered as much anguish in his life as Dovid…. Dovid himself testified (Psalm 69:5) to his anguish: ‘Those who hate me for no reason are more numerous than the hairs of my head.’” (Kitov: Book of Our Heritage)

 

This is Dovid, the eternal king of Israel, father of Moshiach, who was born and died on Shavuos.

 

It is not normal that Moshe Rabbeinu should be the Father of All Prophets. It is not normal that Dovid should be the Father of Moshiach. It is not normal that Am Yisroel should continue to exist as the Torah Nation two thousand years after we were cast into an Exile which scattered the crushed nation to “arba kanfos ha’aretz… the four corners of the earth.” It is not normal that a little tree planted in a little garden in Yerushalayim should yield delicious fruits by the hundreds.

 

“Rabos machashavos b’lev ish … many designs are in man’s heart, but only the counsel of Hashem will prevail.” (Proverbs 19:21) Is it possible for G-d to descend once more to earth and give His People the Torah? Is it possible that the Holy Temple will stand once more upon Har Habayis? Is it possible that all Israel will once again be “k’ish echad b’lev echad … like one man with one heart?”

 

Not only is it possible, but it is impossible that it will not happen!

 

“[When] Dovid was born … a dark cloud filled the sky in a manner that had never before been seen…. No one – save Hashem Himself – knew where the light was concealed. This veil – the last before the great revelation – was the thickest of all. G-d took the light of Moshiach and concealed it from every living eye. In deep darkness He hid the light …. Indeed, Dovid’s secret was concealed from his father and mother, from all the people who lived in his time and even Shmuel Ha Novi (Samuel the Prophet), who did not recognize Dovid’s abilities even after he first saw him, until Hashem told him, ‘Rise! Anoint him, for this the one!’” (Kitov)

 

The sky is dark and redemption is deeply concealed. But dawn is near. Please, Hashem, send the Novi now to anoint our Redeemer, the Son of Dovid, and may he reign soon in our days!

 

PICTURE CAPTION

 

The lemon tree.


 

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