Today is Rosh Hashanah. Not the new year for humans, that's sometime in September, but the New Year for Trees. We celebrate by eating fruit, especially fruits significant to Israel; Those mystically inclined indulge in a festive "Seder"; and in modern-day Israel, the day has assumed the status of a kind of Arbor day and is commemorated by widespread planting of trees.

There is a story in the Midrash of an old guy observed planting a fig tree. When asked if he really expected to live long enough to consume the fruits of his labor, he replied: "I was born into a world flourishing with ready pleasures. My ancestors planted for me, and I now I plant for my children..."

The act of planting is an act of faith. To bury a fertile seed and then walk away, with no way of tracking progress for months or years to come, demands equanimity of spirit and deep-rooted trust in G‑d. So many variables can influence the eventual outcome, and we have so few means of control, that any future yield can truthfully be described as miraculous.

Growth is best accomplished in private. Underground, away from the bright lights and crass demands for instant results, one can develop and mature in a stable and enduring manner.

What's more, just as a seed must first rot before it can begin to generate new beginnings, a person intent on self-growth and character evolution must be ready to undergo revolutionary change, to the point that the old "I", the ego and self-awareness, is completely effaced. Only in an atmosphere of humility and acceptance can the new I develop.

The end results can be truly astounding: allowed to mature and flourish, supplied with Torah-rich nourishment and pruned of the dead-wood, one seed yields returns many hundredfold; the new persona sprouts fertile and proud, a source of nourishment for all and a resource and sustenance for generations to come.