Trees in the Torah + Creating Art

Use this sheet to explore the significance of trees in the Torah and create art around those ideas.

Art by Jessica Tamar Deustch. To see more visit

(ז) .רבי שמעון אומר, המהלך בדרך ושונה ומפסיק ממשנתו ואומר, מה נאה אילן זה ומה נאה ניר זה, מעלה עליו הכתוב כאלו מתחיב בנפשו.

Rabbi Shimon says: He who is walking on his way while repeating his studies, and interrupts his studies and says, 'How lovely is this tree! And how lovely is this newly plowed field!' is deemed by Scripture to be as if he was guilty of his life (death!).

Commentators point out that the person who says these lovely things about the tree and field is only punished if they don't see that their Torah study is connected to the tree. The tree is a creation of The Divine and it is important to see that the nature we are surrounded by is an expression of the torah we learn. If we see nature and Torah as completely separate from each other, we are missing the point!

Do you see Torah and nature as one?

How, or why do they seem disconnected to you?

Design Challenge: How can you illustrate the feeling of disconnection between Torah and nature?

(יט) כִּֽי־תָצ֣וּר אֶל־עִיר֩ יָמִ֨ים רַבִּ֜ים לְֽהִלָּחֵ֧ם עָלֶ֣יהָ לְתָפְשָׂ֗הּ לֹֽא־תַשְׁחִ֤ית אֶת־עֵצָהּ֙ לִנְדֹּ֤חַ עָלָיו֙ גַּרְזֶ֔ן כִּ֚י מִמֶּ֣נּוּ תֹאכֵ֔ל וְאֹת֖וֹ לֹ֣א תִכְרֹ֑ת כִּ֤י הָֽאָדָם֙ עֵ֣ץ הַשָּׂדֶ֔ה לָבֹ֥א מִפָּנֶ֖יךָ בַּמָּצֽוֹר׃

(19) When thou shalt besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof by wielding an axe against them; for thou mayest eat of them, but thou shalt not cut them down; for man is like the tree of the field; should it be besieged of thee?

Does this rule of battle surprise you?

In your own words, how would you explain why this rule was made?

Design Challenge: How can you illustrate the unique qualities of a human and the unique qualities of a tree, as similar?

(יח) עֵץ חַיִּים הִיא לַמַּחֲזִיקִים בָּהּ וְתֹמְכֶיהָ מְאֻשָּׁר.

(18) She is a tree of life to them that hold upon her, And happy are all that hold on to her.

Why do you think the Torah is compared to a tree, as opposed to any other element in nature (why not the sun, moon, grass, or flowers)?

What are ways to hold on to Torah?

What are the qualities of a tree?

Design Challenge: How can we depict torah with the qualities of a tree?

One day he [Honi the Circle Drawer] was journeying on the road and he saw a man planting a carob tree; he asked him, How long does it take [for this tree] to bear fruit? The man replied: Seventy years. He then further asked him: Are you certain that you will live another seventy years? The man replied: I found [ready grown] carob trees in the world; as my forefathers planted these for me so I too plant these for my children. Honi sat down to have a meal and sleep overcame him. As he slept a rocky formation enclosed upon him which hid him from sight and he continued to sleep for seventy years. When he awoke he saw a man gathering the fruit of the carob tree and he asked him, Are you the man who planted the tree? The man replied: I am his grandson. Thereupon he exclaimed: It is clear that I slept for seventy years.

In your own words, how would you explain the act of planting, being an act of caring for the future?

What does planting seeds require of us?

Design challenge: How can we illustrate nature's power to connect generations?