Bamidbar: The Ceder and the Date Palm



How would you describe this type of person? If you heard this profile what would you think? Strong, tall, handsome and beautiful. Righteous and devout. In a continuous state of attachment (dveikus) to God. Does everything a good Jew should do. Isn’t this the profile of a tzaddik? Is there anything missing?

Based on the Midrash on this week’s Torah portion, “bring forth the Tribe of Levi” – which cites the Psalm “A tzaddik will flourish like a date palm; he will grow tall like a cedar in Lebanon” – this sermon examines two types of Jews – both of them perfectly righteous and holy.

One is like the cedar – with a personality that is strong, tall, and beautiful. However, like the cedar, this type of Jew is missing something vital. The other is like the date palm, which is not as elegant as the cedar, but it possesses another quality, which is even greater and more important.

Enlivened by some humor from Chelm and the parable of the “tzaddik in peltz” (in a fur coat), we discover that every one of us, like the Levites, has two options in our service: we can focus only on our personal growth and “grow tall like a cedar,” or we can “flourish” like a date palm. What type are you?


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