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  • Rabbi Mordechai Lipskier

I just want to be noticed.

Parshas Bereishis

The medrash on parshas Bereishis says: People ask the fruit tree, “Why don’t you make noise when the wind blows, like the other trees do?” It responds, “I have no need to make noise, my fruits speak for me.” Then they ask the barren tree, “Why do you make noise?” and it answers, “If only to be noticed.” Another opinion explains it simply: The fruit tree doesn’t make noise because its branches are weighed down by its fruit. The barren tree makes noise because its empty branches fly freely in the wind. Should we feel pity for the burdened, silent fruit-tree? There are two messages I took from the above conversation. Man is compared to a tree. When we are occupied and productive, in other words, bearing fruit, we don’t have time, a need or even a desire to make ourselves heard. Truly effective and influential people are those whose fruit speak for them while noise-making is often an indication of emptiness. We can use this rule when choosing our leaders and when gauging our own efforts. The second message involves a different kind of noise, an involuntary one. Someone once wrote to the Rebbe regarding a student of theirs who was drifting off the path of Torah. The Rebbe responded that this student has too much free time, and, as the Gemara says, idleness leads to no-good. [1] On another occasion, the Rebbe applauded a Dr. Avraham Ahronov for donating the funds to build a trade-school in Kfar Chabad, Israel. The Rebbe explained: The students will gain the necessary knowledge for leading a good life, spiritually and materially. But first and foremost, they’ll be active and productive.[2]

There are many “winds” blowing around us. Trends, fads, and beliefs threaten to sweep us off the proper path. The direction of these winds change rapidly, making their followers feel lost and anxious.

Who’s at risk of flying with these winds? Whoever’s light. How many issues today result from a lack in Torahdik productivity? How much unnecessary trouble is made by children when there’s no school or yeshiva? How many teens and adults experiment with recreational drugs or other destructive activities just because there isn’t enough “creating” in their life? Their noise emanates from a deep sense of emptiness. “I’m all over the place,” they shout. “I have no stability in my life.” The good news is that the Torah has a very effective solution: ground ourselves with “fruit.” The more active and productive we are, the less likely we are to get blown around by the winds. It’s not a favor to spare ourselves or our children of responsibilities. Busying ourselves with another mitzvah, another shiur or another outreach project is not a burden; it’s an anchor. Helping another Yid to become a beautiful fruit is also a source of stability for ourselves.  Let’s begin the new year with a firm commitment to load ourselves up with the fruit Hashem gave us: Torah and mitzvos. Gut Shabbos, Rabbi Mordechai Lipskier [1] Igros Kodesh vol. 14 pg. 148 [2] Ibid vol. 11 pg. 204.