The Strange Garden

I want to tell you about something that really irks me.

You see, at the end of my block is a garden. A strange garden. It’s along the side of someone’s house. Every spring, a gardener (he doesn’t live there) pulls out the weeds, tills the soil, and plants a beautifully organized garden. Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, the works.

So what makes it so strange? And why does it irk me so?

Because nobody ever harvests the delectable veggies. They just rot on the plant. I often pass the garden on my way to the Queens College campus and wonder, “Would I be permitted to sample a tomato? Can I perhaps sneak a cucumber?” Of course, taking “free samples” is out of the question 🙂

I think of myself of having something of a green thumb. The figs on the tree in our backyard are just now starting to ripen, and I’m proud of my summer radish harvests, grown from seeds that I planted in containers on our front porch. I once tried to strike up a friendly conversation with the mysterious gardener, but he would have nothing of it.

It wouldn’t bother me if someone harvested the veggies. I imagine a tomato screaming out, “Someone, please.. anyone! Please pick me for your salad!”

Year after year, the garden is planted and never harvested. All the vegetables go to waste.

Until this year. This year, no one bothered to plant the garden, and it is completely overgrown with weeds. I don’t know what happened to the anonymous gardener. Did he move away from Queens? Did he finally realize the futility of planting a garden which would never be harvested?

* * *

The Baal Shem Tov taught that everything we see and hear is intended for us to derive a life lesson.

Perhaps the lesson here is to make sure we harvest the fruits of our labors. Each of us has unique talents, which would be a shame to let go to waste. Particularly in these weeks preceding Rosh Hashana, it is apropos to ask ourselves, Am I utilizing my talents? Am I letting my gifts go to waste? Am I striving to maximize my potential?

May we be blessed with a fruitful New Year!