Plant a Tree: It Can Be a Spiritual Event
On Tu B'Shevat--Jewish Arbor Day--use this ritual to celebrate and sanctify our natural world
All: A little lower than angels, entrusted with keeping God's world, with completing the work of creation. The flower, the stream, the chemistry, woman, man: each a tiny part of God's intricate infinity, each connected to all others.
Reader 4: When God created the first human beings, God led them around the Garden of Eden and said: Look at my works! See how beautiful they are, how excellent! For your sake I created them all. Take care not to spoil or destroy My world, for if you do, there will be no one to repair it after you. (Taken from the Midrash Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:13.)
All: Do not destroy it.
Reader 5: Do not permit oil to spill into rivers and oceans, do not destroy the forests, do not poison the groundwater.
Leader: And do not wound your neighbors, for they, too, are part of the interdependent whole.
All: Today we have gathered to plant a tree.
Reader 6: Each tree absorbs a bit of our pollution, and then transforms it into oxygen, a source of life. Each tree is truly a "tree of life."
All: We plant in order to mend, to heal, to fix. We plant for the sake of Tikkun Olam, the repair of God's order, of God's universe, our home.
Reader 7: And each planting is a reminder of our responsibility. We did not make this world; we are its product and not its producers. But it is ours to enjoy, to explore, and most of all, to protect. We protect it by planting and by remembering and by connecting, from generation to generation.
All: We plant in order to remember, in order to remind, in order to keep and connect with God's Creation, our home.
Leader: Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai said, "If you are in the midst of planting a tree and word reaches you that the Messiah has arrived, do not interrupt your work; first finish your planting and only then go out to welcome the Messiah." (From Avot de-Rabbi Nathan)
All: It is our prayer, in the words of Jeremiah and the Psalmists, that this tree shall continue to flourish. May its foliage be luxuriant, and may all that it does prosper.
Praised are You, Eternal our God, Ruler of the Universe, Who makes the works of creation.
In Hebrew: Baruch Atah Ha-Shem, Elokeinu Melech ha'olam, oseh ma'aseh v'reshit.