“Planting a tree” for a happy occasion has become almost a Jewish stereotype, but it really is a huge mitzvah.
The classic way to plant a tree in Israel is through the Jewish National Fund (KerenHa-Kayemet Le-Yisrael). For over a century, they have been revitalizing Israel through reforestation, research, land and water management, community building, education, and accessibility. Visit their site to learn more and plant trees.
And we can take this mitzvah to the whole world:
The Bible forbids chopping down fruit trees in a time of siege (Deuteronomy 20:19-20). In Jewish law (halakhah), this was expanded to a general principle known as Bal Taschit, do not wantonly destroy anything. You could call this the premier environmental mitzvah (good deed, imperative). Discuss with the members of your household and communities how to decrease waste: reduce, reuse, recycle.
Even more, we have to preserve, protect, plant. Our world is threatened by the ravages of deforestation. The Redwood Rabbis were an inspiring example of a group of Jews who organized to courageously protest the clearcutting of ancient Redwood trees. Their example can inspire us to plant and protect trees in our own communities. Plant trees in developing nations through groups like Trees for the Future. Join with groups like the Sierra Club, National Forest Foundation and The Nature Conservancy to preserve trees and wilderness, because they preserve us!
Featured Image: Redwood Trees, Big Basin, California