The wise and wonderful Batya Medad has once again reminded us of our true responsibilities in looking back on the Carmel fire and taking a lesson from Israel’s water shortages.
But, although I usually agree with her 100%, she refers to some of the people’s mourning for the trees as “trivial.”
Trivial or not, my perspective on the fire had a lot to do with the trees.
It’s not that we shouldn’t daven, of COURSE, and certainly focus on Hashem’s purpose for the country, and the direction its leadership should take. Those are all important things – far more important than the trees.
But then there’s the fact that every Tu b'Shvat, when it's too cold to think about planting anything, we're over here, paying JNF and visualizing fields full of Israeli s choolchildren planting for us. Every bar or bat mitzvah, every secular milestone... you plant a tree. It’s the rectangular blue “pushke” in every Bubby’s home.
To think of those or any other trees burning, well, the trees mean a LOT.
The trees are synecdochal - they are a small and superficial part of Israel, it's true, but for many of us, they represent the whole, the tikvah, the aspirations of every Jew, להיות עם חופשי בארצנו, “lihyot am chofshi b'artzeinu” – to be a free people in our own land.
The trees are irrevocably intertwined with the freedom of Jewish people everywhere. Trivial? Never.