Once upon a time in Sweden, in our little garden, just outside the upstairs window, we had a beautiful magnolia tree. What a joy it was when spring arrived! Through our window, we could see lovely white-pink flowers and listen to birds singing in its rich foliage. Our children would climb its sturdy lower branches and peek out between rustling flowers and leaves. The sweet, floral fragrance would fill the garden. After a few weeks, its beautiful petals would float softly down to the ground, a white-pink carpet, surrounding the tree like royalty.

It was a pure delight!

Then one day, a man from the insurance company came for a visit.

He pointed somberly to the paved ground surrounding the magnolia. “These roots are growing into the house. There will be too much damage to the structure of the building in a couple of years. You have to move it.”

We had so many questions.

“Move it? How? Why? Where? Would it survive?”

But there was no choice.

I’ll never forget the day the gardeners arrived.

The workers dug deep and slashed and hacked at the strong roots. I was surprised by how painful it was to watch. And then came the moment they wrenched the entire tree out of the ground, leaving a gaping, gashing emptiness where it had been. Crushed leaves, petals and broken branches lay scattered on the ground.

The workers dug a deep hole further away from the house and heaved the tree over, replanting it in the soft earth.

It looked so fragile and lonely in the new location.

And what a trauma it had endured!

I realized, for the first time, that uprooting a tree is no simple matter.

“Will it be OK over there?” I asked anxiously. “Will it grow well?”

“We hope so, but we can’t be sure. It depends what G‑d wants,” the chief gardener, a tall Israeli, responded honestly. “And you’ll have to be a good gardener. Make sure it gets sunlight, enough water. Maybe some vitamins. We just hope for the best.”

Sadly, the next spring, there were few leaves and no flowers at all.

By the time the next year arrived, all the branches were dried twigs.

Our beautiful tree hadn’t been written into the Book of Life on Tu Bishvat. Or probably, I wasn’t really a good gardener.

The glorious tree was now just a memory.

But it made me realize something.

In the last century, nearly every Jewish community in Europe and the Middle East was uprooted.

Pogroms, violent revolutions, and the Holocaust uprooted communities in Russia, Poland, Germany, and Hungary. The Farhud and the Revolution uprooted the Jews of Iraq and Iran, who had lived there for over 2,000 years, since the time of the Second Temple! The Jews of Lebanon, Syria, Tunisia … everyone packed up and moved!

Our entire People was simply uprooted after centuries of growth and strong roots. Beautiful, young flowers crushed and destroyed. Entire branches of families broken and lost.

And then the tree was replanted in new soil. The US, South America. Israel. New places in Europe.

Would it survive? How would it recover the houses of learning, the knowledge, the way of life, the communities, the Torah and mitzvahs on new soil?

G‑d, in His infinite kindness, only 5 years after the Holocaust, gave our uprooted people a master gardener: The Rebbe—a leader who understood what the tree needed most.

The sunshine of warmth, joy, smiles, dance, song, encouragement. The joy and pride in being Jewish. The gentle, life-giving water of Torah study and mitzvah campaigns. The vitamins of Jewish camps, Shabbat gatherings, birthday celebrations, Lag Baomer parades, farbrengens, conferences.

It is no coincidence that the very first talk the Rebbe gave when he accepted the leadership in 1950 was: “I have come to my garden, my sister, my bride ...”

And the tree grew. Slowly new roots pushed into the soil. New shuls, communities, schools, always supported by the Rebbe.

Support for the community in the newly established State of Israel. A network of assistance for Jews behind the Iron Curtain. Teachers for Morocco. Youth leaders for Europe. Dynamic leaders on university campuses. He sent his team of junior gardeners, whom he trained carefully, his shluchim. Now came Chabad centers and schools, Hebrew schools, preschools, yeshivas and seminaries. The Rebbe encouraged education for children, teens, and students. Thousands married because of the Rebbe’s blessings and encouragement. New babies were born, thank G‑d!

Healthy green leaves and beautiful flowers.

The uprooted tree, the Jewish nation, is alive and well today with new shoots growing all the time.

Thank you, G‑d, for bringing us all back to life and for the gift and guidance of the Rebbe, the master gardener you gave us.

The Rebbe taught us to make this world a beautiful garden where You, dear G‑d, will feel at home. Now we await the time that You return to Your garden, with the coming of Moshiach.