It seems that grafting fruit trees
is a common practice;

The scion,
a clone of its parent,

the quality,
the flavour
the nutritious value
of the fruit it produces;

it is also a safeguard
against cross-pollination
which I found interesting
for it means
that it protects from further diversification.

I am not sure what to make of this
and want to look into it further
for there are two aspects here:

One, cross-pollination
adds to diversity in nature;
Two, cross-pollination
potentially weakens agricultural produce…

Reminding me of our Patriarch,
who knew the ways of his sheep

and how to breed them
for added strength
which changed their colouring,
their outward appearance.

While the latter is animal husbandry
it seems similar processes are at work
in producing agricultural products.

Agriculture then
is the arena where human beings
interact creatively with nature
to feed themselves
and their communities.

Farming, from Judaism’s Indigenous Knowledge perspective
is a co-creative process,
suggesting that farming
incorporates the ‘laws of nature’
while simultaneously transcending them.

the agricultural laws in Judaism
is the belief
that beyond nature

beyond the stars
the sun and moon
the planets

beyond the expanse
of multiple galaxies
beyond the powers of all entities

beyond the deities
beyond the angels
beyond the laws of nature

is Hashem
the Name
the Master of the Universe

the Ultimate Source
of sources
initially revealed to all humanity

through Adam
the first man –

memory of the Creator
in many myths
and cosmologies
in cellular memory retained.

In Judaism,
this collective memory
in Jewish history was revealed

as the living
co-creative power
that runs the universe…

written and oral,

the living covenant between the Ultimate Owner
and the Jewish people who the task
of never forgetting this highest reality
took on;

Torah –
flaming fire –
a relationship
between heaven and earth continuously forges;

Torah –
purifying air –
revives and refreshes;

Torah –
living water –
new life nourishes
and nurtures;

Torah –
grounding earth –
seed receives
and births;

Torah –
hidden potential –
inner light reveals
and to manifestation pushes…

is merely the mechanism
that makes
G-dliness-in-matter-revelation possible.

not merely.

For nature
for matter,
for thingness,
for is-ness

is light
in the physical hidden

matter is darkness
from light hiding
from light retreating
from inner light forgetful;

And Judaism’s
Indigenous Knowledge System
is about the
light within matter

divine sparks
as part of Hashem’s revelation
for which there is no easy explanation.

In fact,
there is no rational explanation,
just a record of ancestral characters
and their lives unpacking
for resilience building…

Given that the farming community
in Judaism
were traditionally regarded as

Am ha’aretz:
‘people of the land’

People who had no knowledge of Torah
People who had some knowledge, but didn’t apply it;
People who therefore could not be trusted

Because they were ignorant,
they posed a challenge to those reliant on their produce
and land use actions
to remain observant Jews

in matters related to land use…

Despite the fact that the current Jewish exile
has existed for almost two thousand years
the agricultural laws
and the Shemita laws
are important to understand

for Israel exists
as a safe space for Jewish people
from all over the diaspora

and Jewish people
living outside their homeland
now enjoy freedom of religion

and all the other freedoms in the west
including property ownership
including the possibility of growing agricultural produce

for personal use
as well as for commercial gain.

From my perspective
the laws that apply in the Jewish diaspora
includes people like me:

Zera Israel

Our path it seems is a different one
to that of those Jewish born
to that of those to Judaism converted –

like Joseph we are called to be
like Ephraim and Manasseh…

Like Joseph who remembered and observed
our fathers’ ethics
even though far away from our ancestral home

Even though far away from our soul sisters
and brothers
living in the state of Israel

we live
and work
and pray…

The question for me then is:

Am I a farmer?
Should I be working with fruit trees?
With grafting?

It appears not
for my gift is with seeds sowing
and growing.

It could be that my efforts
at fruit tree seeds sowing
and growing
has to do with something else:

Un-hybridizing seeds
and growing these
for re-adaptation
before hybridizing them again;

This is more about growing new rootstocks
for each species;
it is not my task to create new hybrids.

I want to unpack this a little more:

The act of taking fruit from a tree
sowing its seeds
and growing the seedlings to maturity

provides a living seedbank of original species:

Some of which will produce fruits
of ‘heritage’ trees
still others will produce
strong roots.

Those that survive in a specific climate
are the ones to choose
and roots from
for a sustainable agriculture

Such trees
have to be grown in the open.
(Or under simulated conditions?)

Ideally each farmer
or each farming eco-region would have its own
living seedbeds
for ongoing adaptation…

It seems to me
that even non-hybridised trees
whether edible-fruit bearing
or not
require their own living seedbanks
as well –

the above are in addition
to seeds
kept in seedbanks.

Why is this?
Because where the soil and the water are polluted
with toxins that work against them

they weaken
become vulnerable
to infestations
to diseases…

Weakened immune systems result.

Natural forests,
however small in size,
are our living seedbanks

suggesting that they are the most resilient
therefore, the most likely to adapt
to new climatic conditions.

If this is true of forests
it likely is true
of other biomes;

while we are capable of mimicking nature
we aren’t capable of replicating complex systems
in their entirety;

built up over long periods of time
natural biomes are the result of interactions
between earth, water, air, fire
and ‘nothing’
in a specific location on the planet.

Yet the local
is impacted on by the global:

The currents of air that blow high up in the atmosphere
The currents of water that flow beneath the oceans
The currents of lava that rise from the core to the surface

The shifts in tectonic plates…

These interactions
between earth, water, air, fire
and ‘nothing’
impact the whole planet

so that agriculture
is really a fine balance
between the global and the local
between the created and the creator –

Between the human being and the Master of the Universe…

And Judaism’s agricultural laws
and Shemita laws
are a practice in balancing the co-creative act?

And the land of Israel
is the setting for their full practice?

For the Torah blueprint is dependent
on Israeli farmers
on Israeli gardeners
on Israeli consumers

and complying with these laws
to the best of their ability?

For they are complex
and it’s only recently
that Jewish people have been back
in our land.

We Israelite people in the diaspora
can also do our bit by
and complying with these laws
as they apply to us.

And also,
to the best of our ability?
For aren’t we only human
and on Hashem’s compassion reliant?

While on Hashem’s mercy call
to help us rectify
the sin of Adam’s
eating from the tree of knowledge?

Mercy available to us
in a form spiritual:

through Chanukah lights burning
might Adam’s sadness and despair
at the thought
that the world he had destroyed –

and Hashem from the garden caused to withdraw –
turn around?

While simultaneously,
through our indigenous knowledge applying
might we the collective fear that the earth is dying

because of humanity’s collective ignorance
because of humanity’s unskillfulness

into hope
of a renewed earth

By co-creating
in alignment with the laws
that apply to the land that Hashem

gave to Abraham
through Isaac
and Jacob

and revealed to Israel’s descendants,
through Moses,
at Sinai?

As interpreted by our rabbis

while keeping in mind
that since there is no Sanhedrin
all our efforts

become mitzvahs
become commandment-blessings

when applied
under the guidance
of our chief rabbis?

Even for those of us
who are independent
reverts to Judaism?

Shared for the sake of Truth seeking.
Shared for authentic conversations having.
Shared for blessing.

(©Archaela 5782 Kislev 20, 22, Tevet 11)

Sources and Resources

Jonathan Sacks: Future Tense: A Vision for Jews and Judaism in the Global Culture

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