“Off The Derech” Begins: The Tale of the (Not So) Giving Tree: A Life Lessons’ Tale: Genesis 2:15
Bible interpretation is in the eye of the beholder. Amazing scholars versed in ancient Hebrew and other languages search for the bible author’s true intent. Equally impressive are scholars well versed in the many bible commentaries that can address esoteric issues. Additionally, scholars with knowledge of extra-textual sources bring light to the text’s meaning via comparative studies of with other ancient cultures. Finally, there are the not so scholarly. Those who read the bible through their life experience. They read the bible in the context with everyday life’s happiness, sadness and indifference. They read the bible with a perspective of accomplishment, failure and hope. They read the bible as it relates to current events.
Thus, the purpose of this blog’s interpretation is to extract meaning from the text as it relates to modern life. It is not intended to be a scholarly endeavor. Rather, to take its words as it relates to the generations present. The bible’s words during the middle ages may bring different meaning in present times. Thus, passages are to be considered with a modern times’ perspective.
This blog’s interpretation, it will be done based upon three views of thought: a legal view, a psychological view, and a management view.
Finally, the blog will seek out the greater over arching themes in the Torah. Each individuals story cannot be taken in isolation.
The Hebrew word “derech” means the road or the path. With this blog, the path taken is not meant to be the ordinary one. I hope that you will find it insightful, meaningful and entertaining.
Thus, we will begin with Genesis 2:15.
To begin with, we will first jump to modern times and Shel Silverstein’s childrens’ classic book “The Giving Tree.” The book’s premise is how a tree values his relationship with a child. The relationship grows over time with the tree offering all of its parts, leave, branches and wood, to the boy for the sake of the friendship. The tree gave and gave and gave to the child. The tree’s only desire was friendship. The boy, short of friendship, offered nothing to the tree.
In the Garden of Eden, God lays out, not the oldest profession, but the oldest vocations. “Now the Lord God took the man, and He placed him in the Garden of Eden to work it and to guard it.” Genesis 2:15. Thus, Man’s initial vocations were of gardening and security work. Man’s qualities were to both care and maintain as well as guarding and protect. This notion illustrates the concern, even in ancient times, over strangers or invaders damaging or stealing crops.
Like the boy from the “The Giving Tree,” I have a relationship with a tree. I live on land with a historic tree that is reportedly over one hundred years old. Unlike Shel Silverstein’s tree, this particular tree is arguably the “Not So Giving Tree.”
The “Not So Giving Tree” is like an elderly person. It is cleaned up after it every week due to both leaf shedding and bark shedding. The bark shedding visually is excrement-like. It is like an old person who has become incontinent. It requires constant watering and requires an expensive haircut or trim once a year.
When workers come on the property, we become hypervigilent to remind them to be nice to the the tree. Over time, every person who has lived on the property has assumed stewardship and custodial obligations to the tree.
The tree itself is truly a tree of life. During the course of the day, it serves the neighborhood animals. Squirrels, Orioles, Crows, Lizards, Hummingbirds and Woodpeckers come visit the on a daily basis. One can literally watch a live nature program sitting outside and staring at the tree. Beyond the entertainment factor, for those who have lived on the property, the tree’s shade and beauty.
Perhaps, the lesson learned from life’s first vocations is that special things, a Garden of Eden or a precious tree, require humans to assume the roles as both tenders and guardians. It is quite remarkable how the vocation of security guard is often dismissed in modern times when in fact it was one of the earliest vocations. Perhaps, there should be more appreciation and pride associated with those performing security work.
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