Sayings of a Jewish Tree Hugger

An incomplete collection of Jewish wisdom regarding trees & The Tree of Life

Torah, Talmud and Mishnah Passages:

She is a Tree of Life to all who embrace her, and all of her ways/ branches are blessed pathways of peace/completeness. (Proverbs 3:18)

Then the Divine One said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the full earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be your food source. (Genesis 1:29)

From the Earth the Mighty-All/Almighty grew every tree that is pleasing to the eye and good for food. And in the middle of the garden were the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. (Genesis 2:9)

Deborah, Rebecca’s nurse, died, and was buried under the oak under Bethel, so it was named Allon-bacuth. (Genesis 35:8)

On the first day you shall take the offering of hadar trees, branches of palm, boughs of evergreens, and willows from the brook, and you shall rejoice before The Divine for seven days. (Leviticus 23:40)

When, in war against a city, you have besige it for a long time in order to capture it, you must not destroy its trees, weiding the ax against them. (Deuteronomy 20:19) (N.B. better NOT to wage war)

If you should be holding a sapling in your hand when they tell you the Messiah has arrived, first plant the sapling, then go out and greet him. (Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakkai, a sage of the 2nd temple era, famous student of Rabbi Hillel and primary contributor of the Mishnah)

Midrash from The Book of Legends, Sefer Aggadah

Gen. Rab. 13:2

Pirke de-R Eliezer 34

All trees converse, as it were, with one another. Indeed, one may add, all trees communicate with mortals (human and more than human); all trees were created for fellowship with mortals.

When a tree that is still productive/alive/fruit bearing is cut down, its moan goes from one end of the world to the other, yet no sound is heard.

Some Other References:

Biblical & Midrash:

Genesis 2:8-9

Genesis 18: 1, 4-8

Genesis 21: 15-22

Leviticus 26: 3-6, 11-16

Leviticus 27:30-33

Deuteronomy 26:12

The Song of Songs (aka The Song of Solomon

Psalms 1, 104, 148 and others

Daniel 4: 7-9

The story of Honi and the Carob Tree

The Story of Tamar (whose name means date palm)

The story of the judge Deborah who shared wisdoms from beneath a tree. Evidence suggests many women may have worked/shared wisdom beneath trees but much of this evidence is derogatory accounts by male prophets.

The stories of various mystical staffs/walking sticks hewn from various trees such as almond, including Jacob, Aaron and Moses …

The ancient tradition of welcoming in weekly Shabbat in an orchard; often the image of the bride of Shabbat/peace, or Shechinah; the feminine aspect of the Divine One(ness), or in-dwelling Divine in nature, including us.

Kabbalists to more modern text:

Many works by Issac Luria

The works of Zelda translated by Marcia Falk

I know Nothing by Malka Heifetz Tussman translated by Marcia Falk

Marcia Falks’s original work and translations

Writings on Vegetarianism by Rabbi Kook

Various works by Rabbi Jill Hammer

Various works by Arthur Waskow including ‘Seasons of Our Joy’

Works by Ellen Bernstein, including ‘Let the Earth Teach You Torah’

Ari Elon, Naomi Mara Hyman, & Waskow ‘Trees, Earth, Torah

Various works by Judy Chicago

Ruby Red Seeds, by Carly Lesser (Ketzirah)

God in the Wilderness, by Rabbi Jamie S. Korngold

Daily Kabbalah; Wisdom from the Tree of Life, by Gershon Winkler (among some of their other work)

Miriam’s Well; Rituals of Jewish Women Around the Year, by Penina Adelman

Ritual Medical Lore of Sephardic Women; sweetening the spirits, healing the sick, by Issac Jack Levy and Rosemary Levy Zumwalt

The Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook, by Fania Lewando (a beautiful, explicitly vegetarian Jewish recipe book created just before the holocaust. The author and her husband were killed but her work was later recovered. In 1995 a couple (Jewish allies) found it in a little second-hand book shop, in Hay-on-Wye, on the English / Welsh border. Recognizing its importance, they bought it then donated it to the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York City, who restored, and translated it, so it is now celebrated.)