A Word for the Month of SHEVAT
Man is like a tree in that his good deeds are his produce, his “fruits,” and his arms and legs the branches which bear these fruits. He is, however, an “upside-down tree,” for his head is rooted in the heavens, nestled in the spiritual soils of the Eternal, and nourished by his connection to his Creator. 
A righteous man will flourish like a date palm, like a cedar in the Lebanon he will grow tall. Planted in the House of the Lord, in the courtyards of our G-d they will flourish.
“Take with you of the song of the land,” said Jacob to his children.
“What is ‘the song of the land’?” asked the Rebbe of Apt, “if not,
‘The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof’?” 
In this month during which the New Year of the Trees falls, do the trees have anything to teach us? Can trees actually speak? Scripture often references trees and even shares that they sing (1 Chronicles 16:33), dance (Psalm 29:9), clap their hands (Isaiah 55:12), and rejoice (Isaiah 55:12). 
Anyone who has taken the time to be alone and quiet in nature knows well how our Abba Father’s creation inspires, heals, quiets, renews, and, yes, even speaks / teaches. Jonathan Wittenberg in his book The Eternal Journey, goes as far to say, “There may be parts of the heart which simply fail to receive their due education because of the absence of the language of trees and grasses, animals and birds.” In other words, without taking the time to be quiet and to hear the language / lessons our Abba has built into His creation, parts of our very body, soul and spirit starve.
Life-giving soil is fundamental to a tree’s ability to grow and produce. Likewise, our ability to grow and produce are connected to the life-giving soil of our Heavenly Father. And just as a tree whose roots are deeply sunk into the ground is better able to withstand a storm, a person rooted deeply in Heaven is better able to withstand the winds of life.
As any fellow gardener well knows, change and chaos in the garden causes stress. Insects, weather, pathogens, transplanting…all these are forms of stress that deeply affect the health of the plant. In our ever changing, stress-inducing world of hustle and bustle and noise, keeping our hearts connected with the life-giving soil of our G-d, His Word both written and Living, is so vital. How deeply we are rooted in the life-giving soil of our Father’s heart will determine how we handle life’s change and chaos – the winds of life.
Scientists have realized that for a tree to have deep and strong roots, it needs the winds. Strong winds produce strong roots. Likewise, the winds of life are also necessary for our spiritual growth and maturity. Deeply rooted in the soil of Heaven, we are not only better equipped to deal with change and chaos, but these winds help us to grow stronger. In addition, remembering that it is the wind that spreads the seeds of a tree, likewise it is often the winds that enable us to both grow, spread seeds, and speak Life to another.
Rebbe Nachman of Bratslav has a prayer:
Master of the Universe, grant me the ability to be alone; may it be my custom to go outdoors each day among the trees and grass, among all growing things, and there may I be alone, and enter into prayer, to talk with [You] the One to whom I belong.
May I express there everything in my heart, and may all the foliage of the field – all grasses, trees, and plants – awake at my coming, to send the powers of their life into the words of my prayer… May I pour out the words of my heart before Your presence like water, O’ Lord, and lift up my hands to You in worship!
ROOTED IN AHAVA** (Love)
planted in Your deep
a holy sanctuary
may we learn to live
in the life-giving soil of You
and your Word
May we encounter You
with naked trust
and, Abba, may you be
the love of our life
and may we know
without a doubt
the a-b-s-o-l-u-t-e reality
that we are indeed
the one whom You love!
That you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and height and depth, and to know the love of Yeshua which surpasses knowledge, that you maybe filled up to all the fullness of G-d.
* Photo credits – shutterstock.com
** The pictograph for love is an embrace from Heaven. Ahav (love) is spelled Aleph (א) – Hey (ה) – Bet (ב). Aleph-Bet (אב) spells father. The Hey in the pictograph means reveal. By placing the Hey in the center of the Father we see that love is the Father’s heart revealed. Adapted from Hebrew Word Pictures, Dr. Frank T. Seekins
1. Midrash Shmuel on Pirkei Avos 3:24
2. * A creative, hasidic interpretation of Rebbe of Apt as shared by Jonathan Wittenberg in The Eternal Journey, 115
3. Anyone who has had the honor to experience fall in the north east of the USA can share how the trees – dressed in all their glory of reds and golds – both sing and praise our Creator. Here, off the Gulf of Mexico, we have seen both the gentle dance of trees swaying in the soft ocean breeze and the wild dance as the the pelting rains strip their branches and bend their powerful trunks.