One day when Honi, the righteous man, was out walking, he came upon a man planting a carob tree.

"How long will it be before this tree bears fruit?" Honi asked.
"Seventy years," the man replied.
"How do you know you'll be alive in seventy years?"
"Just as I found carob trees when I came into the world," answered the man, "so I am now planting carob trees for my grandchildren to enjoy." [1]

A man was journeying in the desert. He was hungry, weary and thirsty, and he lighted upon a tree, the fruits of which were sweet, its shade pleasant, and a stream of water was flowing beneath it. He ate of its fruits, drank of the water and rested under its shade.

When he was about to continue his journey he said:
"Tree, oh tree, with what shall I bless you?
Shall I say to you: May your fruits be sweet? They are sweet already.
That your shade be pleasant? It is already pleasant.
That a stream of water may flow beneath you. Lo, a stream of water flows already beneath you.
Therefore, I say, may it be God's will, that all the shoots taken from you be like you." [2]

Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai used to say: If you happen to be standing with a sapling in your hand and someone says to you, "Behold, the Messiah has come!" — First plant the tree and then go out to greet him. [3]


footnotes [1]Babylonian Talmud Taanit 23a [back]
[2] Babylonian Talmud Taanit 5b [back]
[3] Avot of Rabbi Nathan [back]

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