The Tsadik Tree

Tribute to Brancusi

 » And the righteous (tsadik) shall be like a tree planted by streams of water  »

Tehilim 1, 3
 וְהָיָה–    כְּעֵץ, שָׁתוּל עַל-פַּלְגֵי-מָיִם:
אֲשֶׁר פִּרְיוֹ, יִתֵּן בְּעִתּוֹ–וְעָלֵהוּ לֹא-יִבּוֹל;    וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר-יַעֲשֶׂה יַצְלִיחַ.
Psalm 1, 3 And he (« The righteous », tsadik) shall be like a tree planted by streams of water, 
that bringeth forth its fruit in its season, and whose leaf doth not wither; and in whatsoever he doeth he shall prosper.

In different places, the Torah compares man to a tree:  A man is like a field tree … (Deut. 20, 19) As the days of the trees will be the days of my people … (Isaiah 65, 22) He will be like a tree planted at the edge of the water … (Jeremiah 17, 8) and the Talmud explains:

« A person whose wisdom exceeds his good deeds is compared to a tree with many branches, but sparse roots. The wind blows, uproots it and turns it over. But a person whose good deeds exceed his wisdom is compared to a tree whose branches are few, but whose roots are numerous. « Even if all the winds of the world were to blow, they would not be able to make it fall. »(Avot 3, 22).

And the first psalm compares the just to a « tree planted near a stream that gives fruit in its time and its leaves never die ». Everyone knows that we recognize a man as a tree … by his fruit. To become a man is to become a living Torah. The Torah is a tree of life for those who cling to it. (Proverbs 3, 18).

The tree is also the succession of generations, a Talmudic tale says :

 » An old man was planting a tree. A young man passed by and questioned him: – What are you planting? « A carob tree, » replied the old man. ‘Fool’, replied the young man. Do you not know that it takes seventy years for the carob tree to produce fruit? – I don’t mind, replied the old man. As others have planted trees for me, I plant them for future generations. Just as my fathers planted for me, I will plant for my children »

T.B. Taanit 23a

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