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February 02, 1990 - Image 138

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-02-02

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Bishevat And Ethical Wills

By RABBI ALON TOLWIN

Tu Bishevat is coming up, and
that time of year always makes me
think of two things: 1) Tree planting
and 2) Ethical wills ...
You know the story about a
traveler who saw an old man
planting a tree. "Old man," he
queried, "why are you planting that
tree? You'll be gone way before it
produces any fruit for you to enjoy!"
The old man replied, "I'm not
planting this tree for me; I'm
planting it for my children who will
survive me."
We all know people who
continue to work after they have
amassed a fortune — who keep
very busy making investments even
though they couldn't possibly spend
all of their money in two lifetimes.
They do it, like the old man, for
their children.
As long as we Jews have been
concerned with the financial well-
being of our children, we have been
concerned with their spiritual well-
being. We have left 'ethical wills':
Documents which contain wisdom
gleaned from living Jewish lives,
aspiring to help our children achieve
greater love, dedication and
understanding of God, Torah and
the Jewish people.
In Maimonides' famous letter to
his son Avraham, he writes:
"Fear the God of your
forefathers ... Love wisdom, seek it
as silver ... Tarry at the homes of
the wise ... Love truth and
righteousness ... On that day I will
bequeath to you my possessions, I
will hand to you the belief in God
... Be a man of your word ... Take
care of your health ..."
Nachmanides, the 11th century

Talmudic scholar and Jewish leader
wrote an ethical will to his children:
"Hear, my son, the ethical
teachings of your father, and don't
scorn the instructions of your
mother. Train yourself to speak
pleasantly to all people and at all
times ... Remove yourself from
anger ... Study Torah regularly .. .
When you stand in prayer, don't
allow yourself to get distracted .. .
Read this letter once a week . .."
How did the children of these
great leaders remember their fathers
and how are they still remembered
today? Are they remembered for
their wealth? Wealth fades. The
message of the ethical will remains
forever.
We have a great legacy from
our parents and grandparents. That
legacy is the wisdom of the Torah.
Are we able to pass it on to our
children? Our grandchildren? What
will they remember us for?

I was at a funeral some years
ago which made an indelible imprint
on my being. The deceased was
being remembered for his great
sense of humor and his flair for
dressing with style. The man loved
golf, was a long standing member
of his club and gave to the United
Jewish Appeal. He never missed a
television football game and enjoyed
watching them with family. In all
honesty, I was appalled.
I started asking people in my
classes to write two obituaries for
themselves. The first one was what
they thought the rabbi would say
about them. The second was what
they would like to dream about
accomplishing and what the rabbi
would say about them if they

A Special Parenting Opportunity

fulfilled their dreams. Most everyone
discovered they had strayed very far
from their dreams. They would not
be remembered for greatness. They
would end up being remembered for
the games they played and for
leaving a pile of things to their
children.
Is this a legacy?
Tu Bishevat is coming. It is the
holiday of trees. It reminds us of
season cycles, productivity, and
mostly — of doing something for the
next generation
This Tu Bishevat, will we be
from those who only eat from the
trees or will we be the planters of
trees?
What if all the readers of this
article would sit down and make a
list of their spiritual possessions that
will be left to their children. Then
what if they would set goals for
themselves to be attained before
death:

— I want to understand the
purpose of being Jewish and teach
it to my children.
— I want to see the beauty in
all people, and pass this sensitivity
on to my children.
— I want to be totally
committed to Judaism and Israel
and pass this sense of loyalty to my
children.
— I want to be honest, humble
and wise, and to convey these
attributes to my children .
Could you imagine a Jewish
people who thought and acted like
this?
This Tu Bishevat, let's think not
only of the physical wills we can
plant for our children, but the
ethical ones as well. ❑

Rabbi Tolwin is education director of
Aish HaTorah/Aleynu, the
partnership for adult Jewish
education.

Tu Bishevat Scrambler

Instructions: Correctly unscramble the words below and match the
letters with the corresponding numbers to find the answers. HINT: Each
puzzle has the word "tree" in the answer.

SCRAMBLE TREES

_a_LE_
5

1.

KOA

2.

ACT EE

3.

LLOIWW

4.

CYRPSSE

5.

EVLOI

6.

GFI

3

8

2

10

9

7.

AlkiP

8.

MEALP

9.

Et ■ EYIL

10.

RIF

7

4

1

6

THE TORAH IS CALLED THE

1

2 3 4

a 5 6

7 8 9 10

Continued from Page L-1

and ultimately leave their families
and seeds and die.
This is not to suggest that
every Tu Bishevat becomes an
opportunity to discuss death and
dying, but rather, that if it is
appropriate, and timely, that we

eehaffall

THE JEWISH NEWS

27676 Franklin Road
Southfield, Michigan 48034
February 2, 1990
Associate Publisher Arthur M. Horwitz
Jewish Experiences for Families
Adviser Harlene W. Appelman

L-2

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 1990

don't shy away from having this
discussion with our children.
The story of Honi also offers a
special opportunity: at the story's
close, Honi is asked why he, such
an old man, is planting saplings. He
surely won't live long enough to
taste the fruit of the trees he is
planting. Honi replies that he is not
planting for himself but for his
children, so that they may enjoy the
fruit of these trees.

SCRAMBLED FRUIT

1.

PAPA.

2.

6
SYTRABRREW

3.

SRINA.I

4.

TADE

16

2

14

4

17

10

5.

TUNLAW

6.

GENRAO

7.

ACIOPRT

8.

GIF

9.

RYRETIC

10.

NAIEM3PEGRA

3

1

5

8

9

Parenting Points About Tu Bishevat
1. Everything on earth has a life
cycle.
2. Living things go through
changes.
3. Living things have ways of
helping the next generation and
learning part of themselves for the
next generation. ❑

.

11

15

12

13

ANOTHER NAME FOR TU B'ShTVAT

1 2 3

PUZZLE BY
JUDY SILBERG LOEBL

8 9

MAAA AAA

MA/4N/ frisAi

10 11 12

4 5 6 7

13 14 15 16 17

AAVVQWVAINVIAPAAAN:AAIV An

Answers On Page L-8

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