This palm tree has forced its way through the cement at the
entrance to our apartment block. The paving stones were well
laid and cement carefully placed between them, yet, this
small seed found some soil and forced its way upward, through
a barrier of stone and cement, reaching out for the light,
growing season by season.
Not only did this small tree win its fight against biological
and mechanical opponents, but also against the human hand. No
one thought to consider that a plant was spoiling the
pristine appearance and take sharp shears to it and remove
it. Each time I go by, I look and wonder. More than that, I
began to notice other plants with similar stubborn
The sides of the cliff in Netanya are planted with a variety
of wild flowers that cling to the soil and slow down erosion.
The steps leading down to the beach are carefully maintained
and swept free of sand each day. Yet in spite of that, some
of these flowers grow between the steps, forcing their stems
through the concrete, somehow surviving the mass of trampling
feet up and down, all through the day.
On garden paths and concrete covered playgrounds, my eye
began to focus on these lonely hardy, stubborn plants, of all
I began to think about people who, fate decrees, should
likewise be placed on stony ground, in an environment that is
more likely to create a damaged individual than someone who
can contribute in a positive way to their fellow man, and yet
are able to persevere and overcome all obstacles.
There are Jewish children who are born into a home where most
of the practice of things Jewish has been replaced by the
values and customs of the surrounding society. The growing
Baal Teshuva movement has many examples of young people who
have been given no knowledge of their birthright, and yet, by
dint of courage and perseverance, find someone who will teach
them what they have never learned. They turn their back on
the non-values they have been taught since childhood and
embrace new ones, Jewish values. In doing this, they not only
find a new life for themselves, but they renew a link,
stretching all the way back to Sinai, that may well have been
lost in their generation.
Like the plants that thrust their way through barren ground
and hard cement, their path is not an easy one. Yet somehow
There are others who grow up in a Jewish home, but in
difficult circumstances. Yet instead of becoming
disillusioned or embittered, they keep to the lessons they
learn at school and at home and become fine strong people,
with compassion for others who are suffering as they once
did. They too, like the palm tree and the flowers on the
steps to the beach, have had to persevere through many
difficulties and not give up.
Wherever we look, in nature or in the stories of people
around us, we can find those who overcame obstacles to
achieve much more than their barren landscape promised.