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Paving the Way

Paving the Way

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The Midrash tells the story of an elderly man who was observed planting fig trees at the age of 100.

“Surely you don't expect to live to see the fruits of your labor?” questioned passersby.

“Have not my ancestors worked for me? Why then should I not work for the future generation in the same spirit of selflessness?” the man replied.

With so much going on in the world, we often feel powerless to make any real lasting change. How can our small actions make any significant difference? How can my good deeds help bring about the Redemption when our ancestors who were unarguably on a higher spiritual level and did many more mitzvahs did not see the Redemption happen during their lives?

But if we keep at it, even if we don't see immediate results, we are paving the way for the future, just as our ancestors did before us. Goodness lasts forever, and our deeds are accumulative. They all go into the same pile, building upon one another, higher and higher, until, together, we reach the ultimate crescendo.

Miriam Szokovski
on behalf of the Chabad.org Editorial Team


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Jules Scher Monroe Twp, NJ, U February 13, 2017

David Chester from Israel My take away from the story about the old man is that we should at times be selfless, and do things not for the benefits that we will reap, but for the benefits that others will enjoy.
At 100 years of age, no one is planning for their future. Whatever they are doing creatively is for instant gratification, and for the eventual benefit of subsequent generations. Those generations have the responsibility of nurturing what has been started, if they wish to see it mature into a productive tree or productive human being.
Outside influences are always there. With a tree it could be devastating storms etc..With a human being it could be drugs, choice of friends etc.. The challenge is to recover from those occurrences, and to become functional.
It is human nature to nurture. But that has to stop when adulthood is reached in order to let our saplings and infants mature to healthy productive individuals.
Women are included in this process.
The analogy being imperfect is beyond my comprehension. Reply

David Chester Petach Tikva, Israel February 12, 2017

Trees as Children It doesn't stop with the planting of mere trees, but in the way we choose to invest in the educational needs of our future saplings who are in the form of children. How many of the children that a teacher teaches, will eventually be able to flourish as useful mature adults, whose growth has not been distorted by present day influences outside of the efforts to best help them grow? Just as a tree needs care after it has been first planted, so do our children need care and consideration regarding their development. In this respect the 100 year old man's analogy is imperfect, and why can't women be included too, after all they are very important in a child's raising. Reply

Jules Scher Monroe Twp, NJ February 10, 2017

Reply to Arnie Aaron Gerstein I'm going to do my best to answer your rather complex question.

If we accept as fact that G-d is infinite with infinite powers, and that all his attributes are instilled within us, then just as G-d is always ready to do whatever he has to do, (outside of the realm of free choice), then we too will be ready for "the final crescendo" as described by you.

Hope that this makes sense, and answers your question. Reply

Arnie Aaron Gerstein Sturgis February 10, 2017

Appropriate commet Yes, Jules,

This is what how I wanted to say it.

Just a question. If God's infinite goodness and potential never ends and it is in us Btsalmo ubdmuto, in His Lkeness and Image, could there ever be "the final crescendo" or perfectly designed moments for each of us, perfect challenges at higher and higher frequencies that we are ready for.
Arnie Aaron Gerstein
Sturgi Reply

sunil subba India February 8, 2017

Thanks for your wisdom and insight as we have to do what we can in any given situation.Good deeds done daily help us to realise our contribution to society and at the end of the day we definately would feel good about ourselves as we feel that we have contributed something to the welfare of the other. Reply

Mary Ann Chezem February 8, 2017

Thank you for the story about the 100 year old man planting and wouldn't see the fruits of his labor. It lifted me up. I feel hopeful my work is like that. With the world in rebellion and chaos I lose hope some times. Thank you. Reply

Chris Australia February 8, 2017

Astonishingly Today also my complaint is bitter (Job) Reply

Jan Thompson February 8, 2017

Wonderful thought! We don't think about how a kindness will affect future generations without us seeing the results. A good thought for the day. Thank You Reply

Jules Scher Monroe Twp, NJ February 8, 2017

Annie, the answer is "yes" ----- I believe?
If you were to ask your question in simpler terminology, I would think about an appropriate response.
G-d's infinite goodness etc. is within us all, and therefore our capacity to do good is endless.
Once I understand your question better, I would gladly expand on that answer. Reply

Gill Grimmitt March . England February 8, 2017

Wonderful , and very inspirational .. something we should all strive to attain . Reply

Anonymous February 7, 2017

Seconds Count; There exists not one second of anyone's life which goes unnoticed by the creator of the universe. Would we all did what pleases Him each second of our lives. Reply

Arnie Aaron Gerstein Sturgis February 7, 2017

Gratefully Just a question. If God's infinite goodness and potential never ends and it is in us Btsalmo ubdmuto, in His Image, could there ever be "the final crescendo" or continuous perfectly designed for each of us, perfect challenges at higher and higher frequencies. Reply

Thato mississauga February 7, 2017

It's an amazing story it has changed my perspective Reply

James Russell Fresno, CA February 7, 2017

Planting a tree Well said! I was just reading Ps. 128, which compares our children to olive trees. They grow slowly but live long and bear fruit for generations. Thanks and best wishes. Reply

Kim Crouch Knoxville, TN February 7, 2017

What an inspiring and uplifting story!!! We forget that so much of what we do is for our children and grandchildren. Reply

Anonymous Boston,MA February 7, 2017

settlements Settlements in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) should be for refugees fleeing war-torn countries like Syria. If Israel would open its arms to these people the gesture would open up a new avenue to peace in the Middle East and if it meant a two-state situation I am sure that that would be worth it. Reply

Jules Scher Monroe Twp, NJ USA February 7, 2017

Beautiful!
Beautiful!!
Beautiful!!!
What can be more beautiful than doing something that will live on after you are long gone?
Doing something positive ASAP, so that while alive you can see the benefits others are enjoying from whatever it is that you have done.
Don't think about doing good.
Just do it!!! Reply

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Miriam SzokovskiMiriam Szokovski is the author of the historical novel Exiled Down Under, and a member of the Chabad.org editorial team. She shares her love of cooking, baking and food photography on Chabad.org’s food blog, Cook It Kosher.
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