The Tree of Life
One of my favorite lines of Hebrew is from a song we used to sing at Hebrew school about the tree of life. It goes…
Eitz chayim hi lamachazikim bah, v’tom’cheha m’ushar.
In English, we sing, “It is the tree of life to those who hold fast to it / and all of its supporters are happy.” It continues, “Its ways are ways of pleasantness / and all its paths are of peace.”
For some reason, this has stuck with me for quite a long time, probably because I really like the metaphor that I perceive in it. Religiously, the tree of life has come to mean the Torah, but it was originally (and still is) a representation of wisdom and knowledge.
What I like about this text is the idea of us as people supporting the tree. The tree is wisdom and knowledge, it brings peace and pleasantness and happiness, but specifically to those who support it. The journey the tree takes you on, the journey of life, unfolds according to how you engage with it.
There are plenty of sayings that we use in every day life about this; things along the lines of, “In life, you get what you give.” But, I like the idea that the tree of life seems to err on the side of giving back happiness and peacefulness. You need to work for it and contribute, but in supporting the tree you find happiness and pleasantness and peace.
It also ties in with my general beliefs about life: I believe in leaving the world a better place than you found it. You should better the lives of those around you; you should improve the world itself. For each of us that will look different, but my goal is that the world should be a better place because I walked upon it. (For those of you who know him, cue Steve Jarding’s voice for that last line.)
The Tree of Life is a visual representation of wisdom and life of happiness and a lot of other ideals. It embodies this requirement I believe in to make the world a beautiful place, to engage with what is around you, and to support this earth, and that is a source of happiness for all of us.
(Mom, now is the point where you should stop reading.)
So, with all of that being said, in the very near future, you may be able to see the Tree of Life and its impact inked upon me in more ways than one…