There is an interesting agricultural mitzvah called orlah. The commandment states that when we plant a tree, we are prohibited to eat its fruit for the first three years. Once this time has passed, we are free to enjoy the fruit and thank G‑d for the blessings He has given us.

There is a mystical explanation of the mitzvah that provides an insight into one of the foundations of personal and spiritual growth.

The very first failing of the very first human beings was the desire for instant gratification. Self-control and discipline remind us that there is more to life than just eating delicious fruitThe first transgression recorded in the Torah is when Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden fruit. Although this story is famous, what is not so well known is that the fruit of the forbidden tree was not intended to be eternally prohibited. Adam and Eve were created on Friday afternoon. They were instructed not to eat the fruit for only three hours, until Shabbat. Once Friday night had arrived, the fruit would have been theirs to enjoy. They lacked the self-control to delay that pleasure.

The three years that we wait before eating fruit of any tree is a reminder of the three hours that Adam and Eve did not wait to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.

The delicacies of the world were given to us to enjoy. But self-control and discipline remind us that there is more to life than just eating delicious fruit. Creating boundaries around our indulgences helps create a focus and consciousness that there is a bigger picture. Enjoying life’s blessings is just a small part of an existence also filled with meaning, values and a higher purpose. Greed, lack of control, the need for instant gratification and hedonism are destructive, and create empty lives and purposeless existence.

The delicious fruit trees are G‑d’s gift to us. But the commandment to wait three years before enjoying them is an even greater gift, the gift of discipline and self-control.