Plants, Rocks, Sky, Snow, Trees, and Land
But ask the animals, and they shall turn you –
the birds of the air, and they shall tell you;
Or converse with the earth, and it shall turn you; and the
fishes of the sea shall declare to you.
A proverb teaches that if we wish to learn to work, we should go to the
anthill. Each animal, each plant, each rock is a teacher from G-d. Each
behaves according to a perfect nature providing instruction. The animals, the
earth, they shall turn you back to G-d.
Animals are our
They teach us to
live in the present. People find in life that it is hard to say goodbye. Yet
from animals, we learn to adjust to new people and new places we choose to live.
Animals give us joy. They entertain. They are playful. They are clowns. We
love them. They love us.
I spent some time on the JH Ranch in Bayfield,
Colorado where I learned about cattle. The JH Ranch uses solar power for most
of their energy and is completely self-sufficient. They live on their goat
milk, goat cheese, fresh eggs, and range free beef. They raise
with Red Angus
and a Black and White Milk Cow. Raising cattle requires patience. For example,
one needs to give them time to recognize an open gate and they will walk through
on their own accord. They don’t like to pushed or herded, but will go to
the right place if shown the way. This is how people are as well.
are smart, knowing when they are doing something wrong. They will look you in
the eye trying to evaluate where you stand. Cows become comfortable with people
they see regularly, while being skittish around strangers. They have visual,
audio, and olfactory recognition skills.
Birds are almost as intelligent as people and
should be avoided as pets for the simple reason that they were meant to fly and
captivity for them is a limitation on their native form of locomotion.
Consequently captivity leads to neurosis in the form of feather plucking etc.
While birds would rather be outside climbing real trees, one may cut
branches and bring them inside and lay they on top of cages for the birds to
nibble on the branches and
“My tree, My tree,
It came inside to
Clara’s Day in the Sun
Last Sunday Clara the Cockatoo was out in the backyard sitting on my
friend’s shoulder when it got excited and wanted to get off darting
immediately to the giant Maple Tree. She began to climb and climb until she
almost reached the top. There, she rested through the afternoon heat and when
she got hungry started eating the maple leaves and chewing on branches. We on
the other hand were worried that we would not be able to get the bird out of the
tree. I did not want to leave the backyard for fear she would jump and land in
a neighbor’s yard. My friend talked to Clara and she would just coo back
and not come down. We discussed squirting her down the tree, but she was too
high up. So we waited thinking she would have to come down for a drink. At
sunset Clara began her normal screeching to call the “rest of the flock
home”. To accompany the screaming Clara began a foot stomping while
screeching antic and slipped, recovering herself about half way down the tree.
After this fall she straightened herself and resumed screeching. My friend came
outside and saw Clara and said “you are coming down”. Well Clara
was probably going to head right back up the tree, but she was now within reach
of the hose so we squirted her down as she opened her wings to protect herself
and then softly glided to the grass below.
Next week we brought some of Clara’s favorite maple branches inside
and laid them on her cage like suhachk on top of a Sukkah. My friend exclaimed
for Clara, “My tree, my tree, it came inside to me.”
African Grey Parrot named Tov makes a difference with her owner as they go to
schools and read to the children. While birds should be free, sometimes, a
bird’s life has great significance living amongst
The same can be
said for dogs that are less deprived if taken on frequent walks; but how does
one fly a bird? Some birds like magpies make loud noises, but maybe they are
bothered by our noises as
Grey Owl on the Beaver
Every creature has its rightful place and in its rightful
place it becomes beautiful.
Every person also has their rightful place and in that place they are
Chief of the Su Indians speaking to Grey Owl
A man becomes what he dreams and you have dreamed
Like animals, plants are our friends in this world. Plants are like
children. We nurture them into maturity. In arid countries, plants are
precious. The Bible refers to a number of plants and trees
Table 23-1: Plants of Israel
Animal food. Also a source for bread for poorer people.
Land of wheat and
Ruth gleamed in
a barley field.
and straw feed
Source of fruit for the Israelites.
Good shade tree.
Height of 3 feet with blue flowers.
Products include sails, rope, and
Linen and wool threads should not be woven together into
Linen and wool threads are of a different nature and
a weaver should not force them to conform.
She seeketh wool and flax,
worketh willingly with her
constituted the high priest’s vestments and the curtains of the
Joshua’s spies under stalks of
The resin is exposed by peeling a thin layer of bark. It hardens into
the frankincense, “free-lighting”.
Used to make sweet-smelling smoke in the
The gourd is probably a melon in biblical references.
We remember ... the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the
onions, and the
A lodge in a
garden of cucumbers.
Jonah was exceedingly glad of the
Grapes were eaten in season, but wine preserved the juices for a later
And thou shalt not glean thy
Present everywhere, these are the grasses of the field, the small flowering
plants along the hill sides. Examples include: Mustard, Rue,
Small rain upon the tender
And thou shalt
eat the herb of the
Eat it with
unleavened bread and bitter
“to tend a
A sturdy pea like plant that grows in dry climates. This food like barley
difficult climates or times.
Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of
King David is
given lentils to eat.
field of lentils is defended from an attack by the
during times of exile and
Anemone blossoms of white, purple, and blue. Alludes to other flowering
plants as well.
A sign of
He shall grow
as the lily.
I am the
rose of Sharon, and the lily of the
The name contains that of
describes the sefirot as the ‘Tree of Life’, the tzelem, the
Hashmal, the image of G-d.
Alludes to other trees of great size as
Oak, whose leaf
holiness, power, and
The weeping oak
upon the hills under
O ye oaks of
The older trees are very important as they
bear the largest crop. For
this reason, during
times of war, G-d commanded the Israelites
destroy these trees.
Thou shalt have olive trees throughout all thy
olive oil beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn
shall be as the olive
A dove with an
Dates provided honey, weavers produced mats and roofing from the leaves,
fibers provided thread, rope, and rigging for boats, and fishnets.
made doors and support beams from the wood, even boats from the hollow
shall flourish like the palm
The hard casing survives for long periods in very dry climates. Inside the
casing, the fruit is full of red seeds, surrounded by a juicy pulp,
the name pomegranate, “apple with seeds.”
A land of
tarried ... under a pomegranate
of blue and of purple and of scarlet round about the
Made for pens, paint brushes, papyrus for paper.
Lengths of papyrus
glued together, biblos, led to
the word for bible. Source of baskets,
materials, measuring rods.
Can the rush grow without
She took for him
an ark of bulrushes.
Fig-like fruit. Consumed by poorer people like
Barley. Tree served for
shade. Builders used
the wood in construction.
I was a herdsman and a gatherer of sycamore
their vines with hail, and their sycamore trees with
Thistles and thorns served as a protective plant around vineyards and other
Also they provided kindling materials in an area of limited wood
A hedge of
Sow not amongst
Cursed is the
ground for thy sake... thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to
Land, brooks and springs, valleys and hills, plants and trees, iron and
bronze are all part of our precious
From here we know
that even what man produces, bronze from copper and tin is a product of
The Seven Blessed Foods of Israel
For the Lord your God brings you into a good land, a land of
brooks of water,
of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and
A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and
a land of olive oil, and honey;
A land where you shall eat
bread without scarceness, you shall not lack any thing in it;
a land whose
stones are iron, and out of whose hills you may dig bronze.
The Land of Israel produces seven delicious foods in this blessing.
The seven fruits of G-d’s blessing to Israel correspond to the qualities
of the lower sefirot:
Table 23-2: The Sefirot and the Seven Species
With kindness, God bestows wheat in abundance enabling the expansion of the
Barley is a tougher food mainly for animals, which derive tremendous
strength from the nutrition locked in its kernels.
These are the grapes of Israel, the source of her vitamins and nourishment.
They are the heart of the people, a source of joy and celebration on the
Fig trees live for hundreds of years and connect families across many
generations. They are a symbol of endurance and victory. They provide
sustenance and shade even in drought years.
Pomegranates lush red fruit surrounds her seeds and reminds us of the joy
that God has given to the world. We are thankful for this blessed fruit with
its unique beauty. The red color denotes the left feminine side of the Tree of
Olive oil symbolizes righteousness. Olive’s purest oil is fit to
light the Menorah in the Holy Temple.
Honey is the sweet reward of the land of Israel. From date honey, olive
oil, and wheat; Israelites fashion halavah cakes. The sweetness of honey is
Malchut that is the Shechinah of G-d.
In reference to Deut.8:7-9 the land of Israel flows with springs
that nourish the plants of Israel. Israel’s earth contains copper and tin
that they used to make
improved the quality of farm tools and equipment. Iron discovered later proved
the most durable of the early metals.
Rocks are our friends in the world.
Moses learned this the hard way after striking one with anger to bring forth the
miracle of water. For this sin, Elohim prohibited Moses from walking on the
rock of Israel. That land is precious is beyond question. The Torah teaches
that a man must till the land, must tend to it, he must make it his own so that
he will nourish her and she will return her produce. In the movie “Far
and Away” young Joseph from Ireland to America is preparing to race for
his own land that will be given in the Homestead Act of 1862. He is worn from
his long journey and in exhaustion experiences a vision of his
Da, is that you?
- Oh, you look like you’re not doing too well, my
I missed you, Da
- A man is nothing without land, they
- Land is a man’s own soul...
I’ll work my own land someday.
- If you manage it, my God, your old
- will be smiling down on you from Heaven
- You’ll be running in the race tomorrow, I
I always said I’d get my land.
The sky above us, the trees
before me, the snow between, land is what we are, land is where we
Avigail of New
A breed of
large white cattle developed in
speaking for Clara the Cockatoo.