“The Jewish Garden” is a concept and article by Rabbi Dov Lev on aish.com. In it, he talks about appreciating God through nature and how the plant kingdom is a path to God.
He writes, “The Sages tell us that one should not simply enjoy the beauty of nature for its own sake, but use it as an opportunity to praise God for creating such beauty in this world. Some of God’s most amazing miracles are happening right now in your own backyard!”
Lev offers several Hebrew blessings for vegetation, trees, flowers, fruits, vegetables and aromas. He also talks about conditions and laws around cutting down fruit trees, gardening on Shabbat, grafting and gardening in Israel. It is a fascinating article, along with a video, for creating and tending to a spiritual garden.
The article gave me further understanding of how gardens provide psychological, social, physical, emotional and spiritual benefits. A large part of this is because of the positive reactions we have to nature, so it is important for healing gardens to have lots of green vegetation, flowers and water elements.
Gardens also give us an opportunity to create art, which can be defined as “something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings.” I chose this definition, from Merriam-Webster, because whenever we create something from our ideas, thoughts and expressions, we are making art. I think it is what distinguishes us.
We all have a way of presenting ourselves and our ideas that is unique to us. The shape of our garden, the choice and placement of what we plant, are part of our creative expression. The plants, flowers, fruits and vegetables that we choose to plant make our gardens unique to us.
When we realize and appreciate how much art and our own style is incorporated into our gardens, it can open us up to the spiritual side of ourselves as well.
PATRICIA RASKIN, owner of Raskin Resources Productions, is a media host, coach and award-winning radio producer and business owner. She is on the board of directors of Temple Emanu-El.