From early childhood it always amazed me how a small seed can turn into a tall, strong fruit-bearing tree with branches, blossoms, leaves and fruit. But it doesn't just happen. There are a few critical components that collectively bring about a successful tree.

  1. The seed must be placed in the earth.
  2. The seed decomposes and practically disappears before it can actually begin to grow.
  3. Plenty of water.
  4. Lots of sunlight.
  5. e) Divine intervention. Even the best farming practices do not guarantee successful results. Only with G‑d's blessing can a tree successfully flourish.

There is nothing stopping us from becoming a tall fruit-bearing treeThe Torah compares the human being to a tree. Just like a small seed can turn into a tall tree, so too the human being has infinite potential to grow, develop and change. We have the ability to produce a strong productive personality which, like fruit, will have a positive impact and be of benefit to others around us. We may sometimes feel like a small seed, but there is nothing stopping us from becoming a tall fruit-bearing tree. But the human tree too requires the same five ingredients to bring about the desired outcome:

a) Humility: The earth is a symbol of humility. Ambition to succeed and grow without being humble is destructive and egocentric. Only a healthy balance between the two breeds success—we must plant our seeds of ambition in the earth of humility.

b) Let Go: Real change only occurs when we let go of all preconceived ideas and damaging attitudes. When we remain trapped in our old habits and mindsets we cannot move forward. Like the seed that decomposes we too need to let go and lose our old identity, generating freshness and newness in our life experiences.

c) Direction: The Torah is compared to water. The Torah with its nourishing Divine insight is a manual for life, providing instruction and direction. By learning and absorbing the lessons taught by the Torah we create a value system that will drive and guide our personal journey.

d) Be Positive: The rays of the sun symbolize warmth, hope, positivity and joy. In our personal experiences we can only take the next step if we believe that we can, approaching it with a strong and positive attitude.

e) Faith: After we have taken all the necessary steps, all that is left is to pray to G‑d and have faith that He will bless our tree so that it blossoms and produces beautiful fruit.

On Tu B'Shevat (the 15th of Shevat), known as the Rosh Hashanah of Trees, it is customary to eat fruit and thank G‑d for the wonderful blessings that He gives us. There is no better day to begin planting our own personal tree of growth.

Happy planting.