Pat Shingleton: "The Fig Tree..."
You may remember the parable of the Roman general questioning an old man and his efforts in planting a fig tree. The general contends that it will take twenty years for the tree to give fruit suggesting that the old Jewish man will be dead by then. So notes the old man, "When I was a small child, I could eat fruit because those who came before me planted trees. Am I not obliged to do the same for the next generation?" This Midrash tale was presented in "ritualwell" and showcases the unique nature of the fig tree with many varieties available in South Louisiana. To compliment the planting there are Jewish traditions that involve the shoveling of dirt at the graveside to signify an end of physical life while a shovelful on a fig tree signifies the beginning of life through the gift of memory and sharing the telling of stories. This tradition continues as the Jewish National Fund encourages tree planting and the revitalization of forests in Israel by honoring those in the congregation. You may have noticed many synagogues displaying "trees of life." The leaves further acknowledge the names of past and present members and their families. More on the fig tree is referenced during this Holy Week and Jesus' travels from Jerusalem to Bethany. Expecting to find some juicy figs, the tree had no fruit, thus the parable when he cursed the tree. The fruit of the fig tree actually appears before the leaves and in Jerusalem, depending upon climate and conditions, it is possible that a tree might produce fruit ten out of twelve months.