Ancient Olive Tree
The ancient tree in this picture is at least one thousand years old. Its diameter is almost two meters wide. The insides of olive trees get hollow as they grow older, and their trunks twist in a spiral around their hollow core. I remember taking my wife and kids there when they were younger and all of us could fit inside the hollow core of this beautiful and ancient tree.
Several years ago I walked down to the small grove that contains this tree (and four or five other ancient olive trees) and discovered to my horror that someone had taken a chainsaw to these ancient trees. They had been cut down almost the the ground. I cried and couldn’t believe how someone could do that (it is definitely illegal). But I was glad that at least I had a photograph that showed the amazing form of this tree and was able to make this picture from it.
One of the most important symbols of the Kabbalah is the Tree of Life. Life takes many forms, but Life itself is bigger than all the forms it takes. Even though it took this ancient tree at least a thousand years to obtain the form you see in this picture, that form exists no more, but amazingly, the tree is still alive! It is now developing a new form, different than the twisted and old shape it had before, but it is still alive.
To me this is a beautiful metaphor for Life in general and for the Jewish People in particular. We are an ancient People who have set down roots in various lands. We prospered in Spain until we were cut down and expelled in 1492. But we survived and eventually developed new contributions to Judaism in Zefat of the 16th Century, such as the Shulchan Aruch and Lurianic Kabbalah.
We set down roots in Eastern Europe until we were viciously and cruelly cut down by the Nazis. But, amazingly, the Jewish People survives and are now making new contributions to Judaism and the world here in this new/old phenomenon - a Jewish State in our ancestral homeland Israel.