The Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden was wondering what had happened.
Everything was quiet. There had been people there. Two of them. They were gone. She asked the Tree of Knowledge if he knew why there had been a change. He told her to speak to the Eternal One.
There was silence. Then there was a voice.
“Yes, my Eitz Chayim, did you call?”
“Why is it so quiet? Where did the people go? Did I do something to make them leave?” The Tree of Life was extremely concerned.
The Eternal One reassured her, “No, Tree of Life. You did nothing wrong. They did, though. I had told them not to eat of your fruit or the fruit of your companion, the Tree of Knowledge. They did eat his fruit, and it opened their eyes in a way that made it impossible for them to stay here.”
Eitz Chayim replied, “My Creator, I am sad. I was actually getting to like having them around. Where did they go? Will they be safe?”
The Eternal One was reassuring, “Yes, they will be secure. They will have to work hard to survive. I will be watching them and inspire them to grow when necessary. Don’t worry about them.”
Eitz Chayim was not convinced. “Source of all life, I AM worried. Will they always realize You won’t be far away from them while they are living in their new home? Will they be able to overcome their fears and to live and thrive? Will they make the right decisions for their future? They might need a lot of assistance. I want to help!”
The Eternal One thought for a moment. “Eitz Chayim, would you like to be closer to them?”
“Yes, my Creator, Yes!”
The Omnipresent One looked intently at the Tree of Life, causing a soft wind to move her leaves on her branches. “I have a proposal for you. I will send you out into the world. There will be many other trees out there. You will make friends with them. You will guide them. You will be My eyes and ears to make sure that the people - and there will be many of them - will treat my plants and creatures with great care. They will tend to you, help you grow, and make more trees grow like you. You will be called an almond tree - SHAKED, or, in your case, SH’KEYDIAH - and they will make many of you in all of the places where you can grow.”
“And I will give you a special gift. Some of the people will follow a man named Moses, who will lead them to freedom after hundreds of years of enduring cruel slavery. I will instruct Moses, their leader, to have them make a seven-branched symbol of light that will look like you. It will feature shapes of almond blossoms on top. And you, my Eitz Chayim, will be able to watch them (SHAKAD) day and night not only through all your tree children, but in any place where their light symbol - the Menorah - will stand in the special houses where they will worship Me and pray about taking care of the world - including you - and each other.”
“Really, Eternal One? That is so kind of you. I will do what you ask!” The Tree of Life was excited about her new existence among the people.
“And...one more thing. When it gets cold in the places where you grow, you will be the first tree to show your blossoms. That will so amaze the descendants of Moses and his people that they will celebrate a New Year of Trees. It will be called Tu Bish’vat. It will be a day to remind them to care for the world, including you and your fellow trees, because this is the only world they will have.”
The Eitz Chayim was ready. “My Creator, I will watch them and guide them. I promise! Lead me to my new home!”