"Abba," called Yossi the moment he got home. "I saw that the
dirt by the wall outside our building is pushed up a little.
Is that from an earthquake?"
"Don't worry," Abba said calmly. "I noticed it too. The
raised ground is caused by the roots of eucalyptus trees
growing underground. As the roots get thicker, they lift up
the ground above them. Sometimes you can see this happening
on the sidewalk pavement, too."
"But there are no eucalyptus trees in the yard of our
building or in the yard next door," Yossi pointed out
"Come and I'll show you," said Abba. He and Yossi stepped
out onto the balcony, and Abba pointed at a eucalyptus tree
far away in the city park across the street. "Do you see
that eucalyptus tree over there to the right of the entrance
to the park?" asked Abba. "That tree is a remnant from the
eucalyptus forest that used to be here before they built our
housing project. In order to nourish its enormous trunk and
boughs, it sends roots out twenty or thirty yards or more to
absorb the water and the chemicals it needs for the new
branches and leaves that are constantly growing. A big root
grew all the way out to here, into our yard, and lifted up a
bit of ground next to the wall."
"That's amazing," said Yossi, "that a tree can take in a
grain of earth here in our yard, and carry it such a
tremendous distance, all the way from here to the tree over
there! And it's also amazing that after the grain of earth
has reached the tree, it still has to be brought up to the
new branches and the green leaves at the top of the tree. It
must be taller than a five-story building!"
"You're right, Yossi," said Abba. "It is one of the wonders
of the Borei Ha'olom who created this tree with all
its wonders. You mentioned a grain of earth, but that is not
accurate. The tree does not take in earth randomly, but
rather it absorbs a long list of special chemicals found in
the soil, and only those it needs. The ends of the roots are
like a highly sophisticated, chemical laboratory which
separates the chemicals the tree needs from the ground, and
these chemicals alone are taken by the roots, via a fabulous
transport system, to their destination. If a person needed
these substances, top experts would have to build a huge
laboratory covering a tremendous area, with special machines
and devices of various kinds, operated by a large number of
lab workers, in order to extract the necessary substances
from the soil. All this is done naturally by the roots of
the tree, in the most thorough and efficient manner
"Abba," said Yossi. "Once you told me that a table bears
witness to the carpenter who crafted it, and a house bears
witness to the builder who built it. These smart tree roots
also bear witness to the Borei Olam who created these
wondrous things. In fact, all plants and trees have roots,
and everyone can see the intelligence of the One who created
"But that's not all," continued Abba. "All trees act as a
huge laboratory and provide us with the oxygen we breathe.
Furthermore, every plant and every tree, using the chemicals
brought by the roots, produces the particular product that
it alone is capable of producing. When you plant dozens of
kinds of fruit trees on the same plot of land, each tree
produces its own special fruit from the same earth, each
fruit having a certain size, shape, taste, color and texture
of its own, with its own combination of nutrients, distinct
from all the other trees. Every tree is a fabulous
laboratory which, using a special combination of chemicals,
creates its own unique product that no other plant can
"What does the eucalyptus tree produce?" asked Yossi.
"In the middle of the winter you got very sick and had
trouble breathing," Abba reminded him, "and I brought a
special syrup from the pharmacy. We spread it all around
your room using a vaporizer, and your breathing eased
immediately. It consisted of an essence extracted from the
leaves of the eucalyptus tree. The eucalyptus produces this
substance from the substances it receives from its roots.
Zeide told me that when he was young they would boil
eucalyptus leaves in a pot over a small flame to make it
easier to breathe whenever someone had a cold. That's how
this tree made its contribution to man, who is at the center
"There are several hundred thousand different types of trees
and plants. Some of them bear fruit, and others do not. The
eucalyptus tree does not bear fruit, and with the fabulous
genius of its design, it provides us with an important
medicinal substance used to heal the sick. I have yet to
hear about a laboratory that uses earth to produce the
medicinal substance made naturally by every eucalyptus tree.
When we go out to daven Mincha and we pass by the
tree, squeeze a leaf between your fingers and the scent will
remind you of the substance we used to relieve your
breathing when you were sick."
"Abba," said Yossi, "I remember now that I once read that
the people who settled in swampy areas planted a lot of
eucalyptus trees to dry up the swamps."
"That's right, Yossi. The trees left over from the
eucalyptus forest prove that there used to be swamps in this
area. Trees need a lot of water. Water is the means of
transport which carries the tiny chemical molecules from the
tips of the roots deep in the earth to the thousands of
leaves high up in the branches. This characteristic of the
tree to `drink' large quantities of water serves man by
"Abba," said Yossi, "I think that anyone who looks at a tree
like this and knows and understands what it is capable of
doing must be able to see the wisdom of the Borei
Ha'olom who created the tree with all its wondrous
intricacies in each and every part and in all its workings.
You could say that the tree is really living proof of the
infinite wisdom of the Borei Ha'olom who formed it.
The tree praises Hashem who formed it and placed it in the
ground, and for all the wonderful things He has been making
constantly ever since He planted the first tree in the
ground. It's like an exhibition where sophisticated
machinery is put on display, with every machine bearing the
name of the factory so that anyone who looks at it will know
how advanced the factory that built the machine is. That is
exactly what this tree does.
"I'm really surprised, Abba, that we don't recognize the
Borei Olam and what a great thing it is that He
formed such a fabulous organism as this. Why don't we praise
Him with love for every tree like this?"
Abba stroked Yossi's cheek and said, "Now you have a better
understanding of the kapital from Tehillim
that you say every morning during Shacharis: `Praise
Hashem all the Earth. Giant fish and all that dwell in the
depths of the sea. Fire and hail, snow and smoke and storm
winds do His bidding. The mountains and the hills, fruit
trees and timber trees!' The Sages knew that throughout the
generations each and every tree--both fruit-bearing trees
and barren trees like the cedar--praises Hashem in its very
existence and displays the wondrous and infinite wisdom
imprinted in every action and every way they serve man, for
whom the entire world was created. They can also be used as
a tool to stir our sense of wonder and to bring us to praise
the One whose intelligence and wisdom are beyond measure.
Cedars were once used to build the Beis Hamikdash,
but even today such a tree that bears no fruit can serve us
and help us in avodas Hashem."