A Tree of Life


I bumped into a good friend, Azri, a few days ago as he was coming back from morning prayers. He showed me his Etrog (part of the four species that we wave during Sukkot). The Etrog is from his garden. It's the biggest etrog I have ever seen. Massive.


He said that it was a special produce as the tree doesn't always yield these kind of etrogim. He also noted that it was the produce of the sixth year just before the Shmitta (Sabbatical). What a blessing. This is how Hashem provides in the sixth in order for us to let go and get through the Seventh.


We then spoke about the fact that on the fourth night in the Sukkah there was rain and Tamir and I couldn't sleep that night in the Sukkah. It is generally considered a blessing if rain only starts falling after Simhat Torah. The rain came in the early morning hours, for an hour or so, but it still prevented us from sleeping over that night.


It's then that Azri said the true words: "AnaRina we live by the Torah, we don't die by it."

This is SO important, firstly because it defuses the false and tainted narrative of the Christian religion that the letter of the law kills and that the poor Jews are stuck in lifeless works. Such nonsense! The Torah dear friends, Written and Oral is there to give life. Moshe rabbeinu made it so clear. Choose life by keeping the full Torah! It is your life manual, guiding you every step of the way.


Moreover it falls out in four levels PaRDeS - Pshat (simple), Remez (hint), Drash (deeper inquiry, searching) and Sod (deepest secrets). Pardes itself means paradise or garden, an interconnected system of life given by G-d's instruction.


That's why Mishlei (Proverbs) 3:18 say:

עֵץ-חַיִּים הִיא, לַמַּחֲזִיקִים בָּהּ; וְתֹמְכֶיהָ מְאֻשָּׁר.


It is a Tree of Life for those who grabs on to her, and those who hold on are joyfully blessed.

The word "tomech" also means to support. So in effect those who support the Torah is supported by the Torah in their daily walk.


But secondly, what Azri was saying: Do your best, but don't spiral down into judgements if you can't get it perfectly right. No one can. Now this doesn't exempt you from doing it meticoulsly with full intend, it just means that you have to do it to the best of your ability. Just keep on trying, bettering yourself just like you sharpen a skill. Every mitzva (commandment) is super precious and powerful.


Now think how much effort you will put into a project at work or something you are very passionate about and th exellence you strive for in those endevours. That is the indication of your true capacity and how you should live a Torah commanded life.


Hope your Sukkot is festive, bursting with lively mitzvot and heartfelt joy!

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