Minute #643: Fertile Soil

“I admire your flowers, Mrs. Goldman,” Mrs. Schiff said. “My yard is right next door yet grows nothing but weeds.”

“Thank you,” Mrs. Goldman replied. “But it’s really not as difficult as you think.”

“It must be that you have a green thumb and I just don’t have the knack or the mazal for making plants grow,” Mrs. Schiff said.

“No, it’s not luck. If the soil doesn’t have the proper nutrients to promote growth, the best of gardeners won’t be able to grow anything at all,” Mrs. Goldman explained. “Come to my shed and I’ll show what you have to add to your soil to make your garden grow.”

Moshe Rabbeinu said: “My teachings should come down to you as rain” (Devarim 32:2). The Vilna Gaon explained that rain is the catalyst that makes things grow. However, rain can only help the soil produce products whose seeds and raw materials are already in the ground. Healthy seeds will produce bounty that’s sweet. Poor-quality seeds or lack of nutrients in the soil will prevent the crop from developing into tasty produce.

Mrs. Goldman’s lesson is that every individual has to contribute positive input — character improvement — to get good results in personal growth.

Each individual comes to this world in an imperfect state. Everyone is expected to work on self-improvement and to leave this world a better person than when s/he started. Each is also expected to leave the world a better place when s/he leaves than it was when s/he entered.

You are the seed. You need good character traits to grow in the right way. Add the right nutrients and the proper amounts of water (Torah), and you will grow to be a beautiful product!

One More Second: Another Thought for the Day

Obsessive guilt feelings control a person’s thoughts. The person keeps telling himself how awful he is. He sees no hope of improvement and his guilt feelings prevent him from taking joy in doing the right things. Such guilt feelings must be overcome because they are so counterproductive.

But there are feelings of regret about having done something wrong that are positive…Such regret over having committed wrongdoings leads to improvement. (Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, Gateway to Happiness, p. 217)