I am thrilled that I have had the privilege to make a tallit for a dear temple friend: Meril. She is a very sweet lady and also a piano student of mine. Her torah portion is called “Shoftim”, meaning “Judges”. In this portion, Moses talks to the Jewish people about Rabbinical law, appointing Judges and words of the prophets.
I searched for many interpretations of Shoftim and really enjoyed Rabbi Weinreb’s metaphors: he compares a human being to a tree. Here are a few quotes that really stand out for me:
“King David himself in the very first chapter of Psalms compares the righteous person to a tree. “He is like a tree planted beside streams of water, which yields its fruit in season, whose foliage never fades, and whatever he does prospers.” Of all the metaphors available to the psalmist to paint the picture of the good man, the tree is the one he finds most fitting.”
“But he whose deeds exceed his wisdom, to what can he be compared? To a tree whose branches are few but whose roots are many, so that even if all the winds of the worlds beset him, they cannot move him from his place…” (Avot 3:22)
“The righteous person is like a tree beside a stream. The ethical man of action who puts his wisdom into practice has deep roots which give him confidence and security.”
“But there is a happier connection between people and trees, and that is through the Torah, which is itself compared to a tree, the tree of life; “eitz chaim hi.”
“Indeed, “Man is like the tree of the field,” withering or able to thrive, depending on one’s own life circumstances.”
These quotes really hit home for me. Every day I strive to strengthen my ‘roots’ through teachings of Torah, good deeds, healthy living…and of course, art and music…I see many people in my life who strive for the same strength and growth…and as our roots strengthen, flowers and leaves appear in the form of happiness, prosperity and abundance…it is truly happening all around me!!
I suggested to Meril that her tallit could have a Tree Of Life and she was very excited about this image. She told me that she loves earth colors…. I sketched out an image that stood out for me….and she loved it ….
I got to work right away because I was excited too.. this was a really fun project…a lot of detail and design but well worth the effort!
So here is a picture of the finished tallit: a tree with huge roots and very green leaves surrounded by Torah…
I wish for everyone to strengthen their own roots and make healthy decisions every day…what a world it would be if this were so!!