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A Word from Rabbi Schulman - 2/7/2020

Here is a multiple choice question to consider: In what locale do you feel closest to Nature? Is it by the ocean? In a forest? On a mountain? In the desert? Or is it somewhere else?

Obviously there is no right or wrong answer to this question.

I grew-up in Long Beach near the ocean. However the sheer vastness of the Pacific felt overwhelming. It can be exhilarating to climb a mountain. But every ascent is followed by a descent. As for the desert, the unfamiliar territory feels foreboding.

But when I am in a forest, that’s when I feel closest to Nature. Especially in a redwood forest, I feel humbled. These majestic trees remind me that I am not the center of the universe. They vastly predate my arrival on earth and, God willing, they will endure long after I am gone.

I walk in a forest and feel a part of God’s creation. Like trees, we humans move through a cycle of growth and decay, of rebirth and renewal.

Tu B’Shevat is the Jewish holiday that reminds us of the centrality of trees, not primarily for their utility for human usage but for the spiritual nourishment they provide us. In the days to come, take a walk in the woods and see what you discover.

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