Israel Forever

For the week ending 19 January 2019 / 13 Shevat 5779

The Figs Message

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
Library Library Kaddish

When King Shlomo compared Torah to the fig tree (Mishlei 27:18), he conveyed an important message about gaining and retaining Torah knowledge.

Rabbi Chiya bar Abba quoted Rabbi Yochanan (Eiruvin54a) as to why the comparison was made:

“Just as one constantly finds figs when he approaches the tree (since they do not all ripen at the same time, there are always some available for eating — Rashi), so too one will find a new taste in the Torah he is studying.”

If this message about gaining Torah knowledge is derived from the comparison to the fig tree itself, there is another message from the words of this passage regarding the protection of that fig tree, which yields fruit for its protector: “If one who sees a fig tree in a dream,” say our Sages (Berachot 57a), “it is a message from Heaven that his Torah knowledge is retained and protected in him.”

The fig tree thus conveys the double message of gaining Torah knowledge by appreciating the new thrill which comes with every step of learning, and the need to retain and protect that knowledge through constant review so that we can enjoy the fruits of our study even if we are not lucky enough to see a fig tree in our dreams.

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