May 20, 2024
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In 1924 the Moshav of Magdiel was founded in what would later become Hod Hasharon. Magdiel was a Moshav of agriculturists during the first Yishuv who came to Eretz Yisrael from Poland, Lithuania, and Russia. When the fledgling Moshav was dedicated, the sainted first Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Hakohein Kook zt”l, was invited to take part in the festivities. Rav Kook was given the honor to plant the first seedling and was handed a hoe in order to dig the ditch to plant the seedling. Rav Simcha Raz describes that Rav Zev Gold witnessed that the face of Rav Kook became very red as he threw the hoe off to the side and got down on the ground. The Rav began to dig the ditch with his bare hands, and proceeded to plant the seedling as he had been tasked to do with what seemed to be a sense of awe and trepidation. Rav Gold was curious and asked the Rav why he planted this tree in such a fashion as there were hundreds of trees planted in Eretz Yisrael at the time each year.

The Rav responded that as soon as he held the seedling in his hand he was reminded of the midrash in Vayikra which asks, how it is possible to walk in the ways of Hashem, if Hashem is a devouring fire? The Midrash answers that the first encounter that Hashem had with this earth was to plant, as the Torah explains that Hashem planted a tree in Gan Eden. The Midrash continues that when the Jewish people come to Eretz Yisrael, the first action to connect us to the land and Hashem is to plant. Rav Kook explained that when had the seedling in his hand and was about to place it in the holy land, he realized that through his action he was about to connect with Hashem’s shechina and was overcome with a sense of trepidation.

As we begin the Torah anew this week and are awed with Hashem’s incredible creation, may we strive to see Hashem’s presence in what we call nature and blossom spiritually as a tree grows in the ground.

By Rabbi Eliezer Zwickler

 Rabbi Eliezer Zwickler is rabbi of Congregation AABJ&D in West Orange, NJ, and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in private practice. Rabbi Zwickler can be reached at [email protected]

 

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