1. One of the tractates of the Mishnah is called Rosh Hashanah. The first Mishnah of this section tells us of four "New Years." Two of them are Rosh Hashanah on the first and second days of Tishrei, when each and every person is judged by G‑d, and all that will happen to every person during the year is decided then; and Rosh Hashanah for Trees, on the 15th of Shevat, when the fate of each and every tree is similarly decided.
  2. It is written in the Torah, "For [is] man like a tree of the field" (Deut. 20: 19). Our Sages tell us that men are indeed like trees in many respects, and that there are many things which men can learn from trees.
  3. One of the things which we learn from trees is that they always grow; as long as they are alive, they grow. Even in the winter, when trees appear to be asleep, their roots are busy under the soil, long before the fresh leaves and new shoots appear; what appears to be an interruption in the process of growth is only a pause to gather new strength for further growth, to produce new and fresh fruit every year. That is why the world of plants and vegetables is known in Hebrew by the word tzomeach - growing.
  4. If a tree is constantly growing, surely a human being should be constantly growing. A tree can only grow physically, in its roots, stem, branches, leaves and fruits. A child grows both physically and mentally. As he grows physically, getting bigger and stronger, his mind develops; his character develops; he acquires more knowledge, and his daily conduct improves. A time comes when a man stops growing physically, but his mental and spiritual development continues. But young or old, it is not in yards and inches that the real person is measured, but in his progress in learning and in using his knowledge in everyday life and conduct.
  5. For us Jews the real measure is that of advancement in Torah and Mitzvot these are our roots and fruits. In these we must grow constantly. No matter how fully "grown" we may think ourselves today in matters of Torah and Mitzvot, we must grow at least a little more tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow must be better still. There is always room for improvement, and the time is always ripe for it.