A Tu Bishvat Visit to the Deutsch’s Garden

post by Hillel Torah | Jan 28, 2021

Our Middle School students had the zchut of being hosted in the garden of Rav Menachem and Ziva Deutsch who live in Kiryat Ye’arim, nestled in the Judah hills, an 8 mile drive from Jerusalem. In addition to being a beloved Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Menachem, who grew up on a farm up north in Moshav Hazorim near the Kineret, brought the love of the land to his little garden in the mountains surrounding Jerusalem. During the virtual tour of his garden, he showed the students four out of the seven Shivat Haminim growing in his garden- a beautiful olive tree that gives its fruit only every 2 years, a grapevine that spreads all over the external walls of the house which looks dead but gets resurrected every spring to bear giant green leaves and hundreds of kilos of wine grapes, and his wine press. 

The students also saw a Te’ena- a baby fig tree, just 2 years old and Rav Menachem explained the mitzvah of Orla- one you may not eat the fruit of a tree within the first 3 years it was planted. 

Rav Menachem picked lemons from his blossoming lemon tree and performed the mitzvah of Hafrashat Terumot and Maasrot in the true sense of this great mitzvah; he taught the students about the different terumot and maasrot, who gives them and who gets them, and how we redeem them today when there is no Beit Hamikdash and no Avoda.

Rav Menachem talked about the approaching Shmita year which starts on Rosh Hashana 5782- 2021. He explained the mitzvah and the changes it brings to his garden, explained what he still needs to do to maintain the living trees and plants in his garden while it lays fallow and how he needs to restore his garden a year later at the end of Shmita. He described the Shmita year as a chance to take a sabbatical, to learn, recharge, build your Emunah, and connect with Hashem and with nature.

The students enjoyed seeing the treehouse he built next to his pomegranate tree and even got to see the view from the top deck. They also loved the red tractor, an American  Ferguson which his father purchased 70 years ago and which was restored by Rav Menachem and is fully functioning in his garden. The tractor stands next to the first tree that blooms in Israel by mid-Shvat,  it’s the Shkeidia!- the almond tree. Just a couple of days ago it stood flowerless and now it started to shoot out its beautiful white blooms. By next week the tree will be in full bloom.

Ziva translated to English whenever it was necessary and added from her own wealth of knowledge. It was a special opportunity to feel the spirit of Tu Bishvat in an authentic way. All our students received an invitation to visit and enjoy the fruit of this magic garden. We promised to come visit the garden on Zoom again in the spring to see how the dormant trees spring back to life and burst with flowers and fruit.