Tuesday, December 21, 2010

~Day 30~ Perspective~

Our fig tree and 'yard'
There is a fig tree in our 'yard'. We say 'yard' because the area is only as big as a small bedroom. There used to be an apple tree but for some reason the landlord ripped it out. So, there is a massive fig tree which at one time was surrounded by dirt. Not a very useful area as in the winter the dirt turned to mud and in the summer there were bugs. So, we decided to pave the area and make it more useful.
Having a fruit tree in ones yard is a mixed blessing. There is the romantic notion of trotting into the garden, bowl in hand, to pick the morning fare. (we are not especially fond of figs) The reality is, there is dropped fruit everywhere including on the clean laundry. Dropped fruit means ants and bees and bugs and a funny smell if not cleaned up right away.This one has a low branch that seems to always swipe me in the head as I walk by. (see photo)

We did not fully understand the 'gift' that has been given us. In looking in the Torah, we know that the fig is one of the 7 species of Israel (see Day 19) There is also a wonderful promise that upon returning to the Land we will 'live in houses we did not build and eat from trees we did not plant'. That each of us will invite our neighbor to sit with us under our fig tree~ a picture of dwelling in peace. (Zechariah 3:10) Right in front of us, we have had the blessing of returning to the Land in the 'person' of this fig tree. But we also learned another lesson from our Arab gardener, Ya'acov and our Moroccan Jewish landlord, Pini.

Ya'acov and friend

Ya'acov installed our tile in the yard. The branch that hangs too low kept clipping him and he saw what a nuisance it can be. He kept wanting to cut it off. Actually, even before he worked for me, he saw it and has been bugging us for months to cut it off. One day he came and said that the landlord wanted it cut. We asked him several times if he was sure. We couldn't imagine Pini doing that as it is about half of the tree. Our language isn't that bad but I thought I better be certain. Sure enough, when we asked Pini about it, 'NO!' he said. ' It is a mitzvah to grow this tree. It is one of the Shivat HaMinim the 7 species!' And he went on to tell us of the others of the 7 species he is growing in his garden.

As he walked away, we were struck by the different perspectives:
Ours~ the fig tree is a bit of a nuisance.
Ya'acov~ the fig tree represented a little income if he could cut it.
Pini~ his fig tree is a mitzvah.. an act of obedience to Torah and a Holy work; a blessing and a fulfillment of promises made by G-d.

As we look at the fig tree now, we see with completely different eyes. It's time to go get some nice benches to sit under our fig tree. Want to come sit with us?

Every man will sit under...his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the L-RD Almighty has spoken. Micah 4:4


  1. I would love to come sit with you and eat figs. I really look forward to reading your posts.

  2. December 21st 2010 (30)

    Two Baskets of Figs
    “1 After Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah and the officials, the craftsmen and the artisans of Judah were carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the LORD showed me two baskets of figs placed in front of the temple of the LORD. 2 One basket had very good figs, like those that ripen early; the other basket had very poor figs, so bad they could not be eaten. 3 Then the LORD asked me, "What do you see, Jeremiah?" "Figs," I answered. "The good ones are very good, but the poor ones are so bad they cannot be eaten." 4 Then the word of the LORD came to me: 5 "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'Like these good figs, I regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I sent away from this place to the land of the Babylonians. 6 My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. 7 I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart. 8 " 'But like the poor figs, which are so bad they cannot be eaten,' says the LORD, 'so will I deal with Zedekiah king of Judah, his officials and the survivors from Jerusalem, whether they remain in this land or live in Egypt. 9 I will make them abhorrent and an offense to all the kingdoms of the earth, a reproach and a byword, an object of ridicule and cursing, wherever I banish them. 10 I will send the sword, famine and plague against them until they are destroyed from the land I gave to them and their fathers.' ” [Jer 24:1-10]

    The fig tree is one of Scriptures most used visual aids. In the passage above the LORD didn’t choose the exiles over the remnant because one group was better than the other but rather because He is gracious and He could show favour on who He chose.

    Variously in Scripture we have seen figs being symbolic as:

    (1) A Covering – from sin and shame (Gen 3:7)
    (2) A Fruit – sweet and delicious (Ju 9:11)
    (3) Prosperity – hence a secure life (1 Kgs 4:25)
    (4) Shade – from the day’s heat (Jn 1:48)
    (5) Meditation – of the Word (Jn 1:48)

    Above all the fig tree is symbolic of the nation of Israel, a nation (if we take the symbolism further) that will produce two crops of figs each year.

    Dear readers, if you have just an hour of free time why not study this symbolism associated with, “the tree (ie fig) you did not plant,” further; for each symbol you find … eg: (i) a covering from sin and shame … is what the LORD has graciously provided for the entire world through His Chosen People. The list above is not exhaustive; there are many more to be found.

    “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?” [Mtth 7:16]

    Steve Perry <><


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