|Avraham's Eshel Tree
Published: Wednesday, October 29, 2014 12:31:20 PM
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The Torah informs us in Bereshit (21:33), "And he (Avraham) planted an Eshel tree in Beer Sheva, and there he proclaimed the Name of Hashem, G-d of the Universe." Why does the Torah have to tell us about Avraham's planting of a tree? The Torah is not ancient history, but G-d's authorized manual for our daily lives. Moreover, how is "proclaiming the Name of Hashem, G-d of the Universe" related to this activity?
Rashi there explains that this Eshel was actually a PARDES, an orchard and an inn for hospitality to wayfarers. When the guests finished eating and drinking, they wanted to bless and thank their host, Avraham. Then Avraham said to them, "Do not bless and thank me but bless and thank your True Host, Hashem, Master of the Universe." The word ESHEL is also an acronym for "ACHILAH, SHETIYAH, LEVIYAH and LINAH." This means Food, Drink, Escort and Lodging.
Rav Soloveitchik gives another explanation of why the Torah tells us that Avraham planted an Eshel. The Torah relates this detail because Avraham taught the world that through this tree, one could perceive the Master of the Universe. G-d Himself controls the flowering and the growth of the tree, the falling and withering of its leaves in autumn, and the budding and growth of new leaves and luscious fruit in the spring. Organic life is revealed through the tree, and thus through the tree G-d is perceived as well. Therefore the Torah tells us in Parshat Shoftim, "Ki Adam Etz Hasadeh" (A human being is like a tree of the field.) Both the human being and the tree need lots of TLC (tender loving care) in order to grow and flourish.
Avraham planted the Eshel tree and from under that tree, "…he called out there in the Name of G-d of the Universe." Avraham proclaimed that G-d is not just the G-d of the tree or only of man's immediate surroundings, but He is also the G-d of the entire, vast and endless Universe.