My mother taught me some great truths. One of her wise sayings was, "Most of the good things in life only come after hard work."
I grew up in a small village outside the town of Rechovot, Israel. At the back of our home was a small yard. My mother called it her botanical garden, and she would spend hours planning and dreaming about the plants and flowers that would one day sprout forth from the stony ground. She struggled to root up the weeds, remove the stones, and find a bit of soil. We rejoiced with her when she finally succeeded to plant some seeds.
I was young at the time, and I still remember how, the following morning, I rose early and rushed outside, confident that her hard labor would be rewarded with a beautiful flower bush. When I saw the barren ground, I burst into tears.
My mother comforted me, gently explaining that in nature, there are no instants. Time, patience, and effort were needed before we would see results. "That is life," she said with a smile. "You will see."
She continued to tend her garden, caring for the plants like one of her children. It did not bother her that there was no sign of growth. The ground did not respond to her love and devotion. Then, one day – weeks later – I saw a green sprout pushing its way up above the ground.
I got the message.
The garden has long been replaced by a block of apartments, and my mother is no longer with us, but her message lives on. A seed teaches us patience. Good things in life don’t come easily. Effort is needed before we see results. In our press-button world that seeks instant gratification and immediate pleasure, it is a difficult lesson to learn. Whatever we want, we want now. The tiny seed teaches us to wait, to have patience, not to give into frustration and despair. Eventually, our efforts will bear fruit.
We spend our lives planting seeds. There are challenges all along the road: a difficult child, a moody boss, a frosty neighbor. So many times, we invest with love, a smile, a kind word, a good deed. There is no response. Then I remember the tiny seed my mother planted and how she didn’t give up.
Neither will I.
Tu BiShvat is a reminder that we spend our lives planting seeds. Time and effort are needed for our efforts to bear fruit. Wait patiently. One day, like the seed, we will be blessed.