Parshat Nitzavim: Helping to Make the World a Better Place

by Rabbi Gavriel Jansenson

Once upon a time there was a King who ended a long war and decided to build a palace on the conquered territory. When the palace was completed, he decided to add a garden. He asked each of the local gardeners to come and to plant a tree and told each one that he would be rewarded for his work.  The local gardeners worked for days in the garden. When the planting was completed, the king inspected his new garden and rewarded those who had toiled. Next to the first tree, a lemon tree, he placed a $2000 sign; at an apple tree he placed a $5000 sign and so on. He continued placing signs indicating the monetary reward each would be paid. Finally he reached the end of the plantings, a peach tree, and placed $100,000 sign. The farmers were surprised and asked: “Why, Your Majesty, didn’t you tell us that you like peaches”? The King responded that he did not reveal his favorite fruit in order to guarantee that his garden would be filled with different kinds of trees and that each would enhance his garden.

הַנִּסְתָּרֹת לַהאֱלֹהֵינוּ וְהַנִּגְלֹת לָנוּ וּלְבָנֵינוּ עַד עוֹלָם לַעֲשׂוֹת אֶת כָּל דִּבְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת. (דברים כט פסוק כח)

“The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but the things that are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.”


Hashem tells us that the revealed part of Torah are the mitzvot for us to perform. The hidden part of the Torah is the reward for performing the mitzvot.  Since the reward for any mitzvah is known only to Hashem, the chances are great that the world will be populated with a varied assortment of mitzvot and not only Hashem’s favorite.

We are now standing at a beginning of a new year and we have the opportunity to plant as many trees as we wish and of any variety we like. Our individual rewards are unknown, but the fact is that our planting of mitzvot can and will make the world a better place.

Shabbat Shalom and Ketiva VeChatima Tova