Tu Bishvat Greetings from the KKL-JNF World Chairman

Dear friends of KKL-JNF and lovers of nature and Israel,
The expression "for man is like a tree of the field” (Deuteronomy 20:19) is often used in various contexts. The Israeli poet Natan Zach, who recently passed away, expressed this idea in a poem in which he draws a parallel between people and trees: "Like a person, a tree also grows… Like the tree, a person strives upward". There are many aspects to the similarity and the connection between trees and people. The Bible is full of imagery and metaphors that connect people and trees: "The righteous flower like a date palm, they thrive like a cedar of Lebanon" (Psalms 92:13), or "He is like a tree planted beside streams of water" (Psalms 1:3), and many others.

In the midrashic literature, the rabbis also spoke of the similarity between people and trees. Our lives and life-cycles share many things in common: seeds, roots, support, death. This similarity is reflected in words that refer to the stages of life both in trees and humans: blossoming, growing, withering, ageing. It is also expressed in Hebrew names given to children: Alon (oak), Oren (pine), Tomer (date palm), Rotem (white broom), and more.

This parallel allows us to internalize the act of planting a tree, attending to its needs and watching it grow, as codes of behavior that build one’s character. This idea was expressed in the poem "My Tree", in which the Israeli poet Benjamin Tene urges people to learn from trees.

This year, as we mark 120 years of KKL-JNF, we will also strengthen our activities in the framework of formal education. On this Tu Bishvat, in addition to the holiday’s educational significance in terms of inhabiting the land, practicing environmental sensitivity and shaping our surroundings, we also highlight its role in shaping the future generation to be "a healthy soul in a healthy body", with values and resilience for dealing with life's challenges.
Happy forest and garden holiday!
Avraham Duvdevani (Duvdev)
KKL-JNF World Chairman