By the Grace of G‑d
1st of Shevat
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Greeting and Blessing!

..Apropos of our last personal conversation concerning the question of good and evil, namely that G‑d who is essentially good created a universe which is likewise good in essence, but that it is the purpose of man to bring forth the latent forces of good both within him and in the world that surrounds him, from the potential into the factual.

For this purpose man was given reason and intellect, so that he by his powers of understanding and deduction he can see, even in the most ordinary things in life, a lesson and moral encouragement in his duties and conduct both with regard to his Creator and to his fellow man.

Take for example the tree — an example I choose here because of the New Year for Trees which we marked last Wednesday. What can be more common and usual a sight than an ordinary tree? There seems at first glance, nothing in it to arouse in us any special meditation. Yet we Jews have a New Year for Trees (on the 15th of Shevat), and besides the appertaining reasons for such an occasion, we can, if we stop to ponder, learn quite a few useful lessons from it.

Let me just point out one: Most of the plants, and especially trees, consist of several component parts which are classified into three main groups: the root, the axis or main shaft (which bears the branches and leaves) and the fruit (the shell, the fruit and seed).

These three main parts have their own functions. The root is the means of obtaining the nourishing substances necessary to the plant's life from the earth. It also provides a firm entrenchment for the plant against the wind. It is by far the most important life-giving agent of the plant, though the leaves also contribute towards the living plasma of the plant by obtaining from the air and from the sun rays essential substances for the plant's existence.

The stem provides the main body of the tree, and clearly marks the growth and development of the tree.

But the tree obtains perfection only upon producing fruit, for in it lies the seed for the procreation of its kind, generation after generation.

Now, man is likened to a tree (Deut. 20:19). This likeness is particularly marked in the spiritual sense:

The root is his faith which links the Jew with his origin and which constantly obtains for him his spiritual nourishment.

The stem — the Torah and Mitzvoth; these must grow even as the age of a tree increases its stem and branches.

But the fruit, which more than anything else justifies the existence of the tree — is the good deeds of man, those Mitzvoth which benefit others as well as self, and which have within them the seed that produce similar good deeds.

To sum up, the roots of the Jew and his very link with the origin of his life lie in his true faith in G‑d and in all the fundamental principles of our religion. Unless the roots are firm, and firmly embodied in the soil, the tree despite its trunk and branches and leaves, will not withstand the strong wind. The development and advancement and in fact the entire stature of the Jew can be seen through his good deeds, in the practice of the Torah and Mitzvoth. Finally, his perfection comes through the fruit, by benefiting others, and helping to perpetuate our great national heritage. "Before the sin of the Etz Hadaas all trees were fruit bearing, and in the future all trees will bear fruit," and as our sages told us: The first command in the Torah is that of procreation — a Jew must, must see that there be another Jew.

And this is the meaning of "He who benefits the many, the virtue of many is credited to him" which I quote in my last letter to you, for this is the highest form of virtue.

With kindest personal regards,

Very sincerely yours,