On the 15th of Shevat, we celebrate the New Year for Trees. Since the Torah compares man to “a tree of the field,” we’ve collected nine lessons that we can learn from trees.

1. Always grow towards the light.

As we go through life, we must always move towards holiness and light, reaching ever higher for that which is beyond us (Talmud Berachot 48a).

2. Even the smallest scratch can have lasting effects.

A seemingly small scratch on a young sapling can leave a lasting scar on the fully grown tree. Think, then, about how critical the formative years are—and how careful we must be when educating our children.

3. Grow deep roots.

As we grow, we must remain connected to our source—G‑d. How do we bind to G‑d? By doing mitzvahs. The word mitzvah is a cognate of tzavta, “attachment”; when we perform a mitzvah, we are creating a bond with the One who gave us the commandments. The Mishnah says: “One whose deeds are greater than his wisdom, to what is he compared? To a tree with many roots and few branches, which all the storms in the world cannot budge from its place (Avot 3:17).”

4. Provide refuge for others.

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farm7.staticflickr.com/6041/6350200758_438376a8fb_b.jpg

Just as a tree selflessly provides shade and shelter, be a source of comfort for others and provide resources for those in need.

5. Grow sweet fruits for others to enjoy . . .

Beyond providing shade, a tree also bears fruit. Proactively reach out to others; bring sweetness and sustenance into their lives.

. . even if it takes many years for the seeds you sowed to come into their own.

flickr.com/photos/andersmohlin/8071103825
flickr.com/photos/andersmohlin/8071103825

Choni Hama’agal once met an elderly man planting a carob tree. "Tell me," Choni asked the old man, "how long does it take for this tree to bear fruit?" "It takes 70 years," the man answered. Surprised, Choni ask him, "Do you think you will live 70 more years to eat fruit of this tree?"

"I found carob trees in this world," the old man replied. "Just as my ancestors planted trees for me, so do I plant trees for those who will follow me." (Taanit 23a)

6. Let your leaves return to the earth.

heartsandmagic.tumblr.com/post/63372141936
heartsandmagic.tumblr.com/post/63372141936

Just as the leaves of a tree fall to the earth to enrich the soil, we must give back to the world to sustain others.

7. Be supple in the wind.

count.cernin.net
count.cernin.net

Only a tree that can bend in the wind will survive a storm. Likewise, we must be accepting of what G‑d sends—never breaking or giving up hope.

8. Grow stronger through your life experiences.

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flickr.com/photos/ddebold/7641368638/sizes/l/in/photostream

Just as the rings of a tree record its growth—through years of drought and rain, fire and calm—so, too, must we continue to grow, always adding another level of wisdom learned from the vicissitudes of life.

9. Be impactful.

Trees don’t only provide immediate benefits like shade, wood, and food; they enrich the ecosystem, filter the air, and give off oxygen. Make a lasting impact on the world.

Sources
Some of the content here was adapted from these articles: A Tree's New Year Resolution and What I Learned from a Tree.