Trees and Our Future (Private-Religious)

9, 10, 11, 12

This lesson will teach learners G-d’s appreciation for trees and the importance of planting and preserving trees for our future. The learners will identify these concepts in Biblical verses, Talmudic passages and modern Jewish associations. They will also develop an understand of and an appreciation for the importance of tree planting for the State of Israel today.

PrintTwo - Fifty Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • identify and learn Biblical and Talmudic verses and stories that emphasize the importance of trees.
  • articulate a clear understanding of G-d’s commandment to preserve trees and avoid reckless destruction.
  • acknowledge the importance of trees for future generations: for food, the environment, as well as beautification.
  • know, articulate, and demonstrate an understanding of the goals of The Jewish National Fund (JNF) and participate in a tree growing project.
  • Pens
  • Lined paper
  • Poster board
  • Black marker
  • Attachment One: President Theodore Roosevelt’s Arbor Day Address
  • Attachment Two: Trees In the Bible and Talmud
  • Attachment Three: Talmud,Ta’anit 23b
  • Copies of JNF Tree Planting forms (can be downloaded at or by calling 888-JNF-0099)
Home Connection 

As homework, the learners are to share the Old Man in the Choni HaMagal story with their families and talk with them about people like the Old Man in the story influence (has influenced) and help (has helped) generations. Families are encouraged to help the learners identify and consider any number of people who fit this description. Have each learner explain to their families the importance of planting trees in Israel, or planting trees in general. Arrange a “tree drive” with the families to raise money to plant trees in Israel.


  1. Day One:Anticipatory Set:As the learners enter the room, have the following riddle written on the display board for all to see. “My personality may change from time to time, but my arms are always ready to warm you. You are the air that I breathe. You give me life and I live in order to return your favor. You can always lean on me as I will do my very best to shelter you from life’s storms. No doubt our history of our mutual admiration will be kindly record in the circles of life as well as on the printed page.” Ask the learner to share their thoughts as to who might write such lines as these.Teacher Note: While the answer to the riddle is “a tree”, do not reveal the answer at this time even if the learners guess correctly, however be sure that the answer is revealed or confirmed by the end of this day’s lesson.


  2. Once it appears that everyone has had an opportunity to guess the riddle (still not revealing the answer) distribute copies of Attachment One: President Theodore Roosevelt’s Arbor Day Address to the class and have the learners take a minute to read it.

  3. Once everyone seems to have had enough time to read the article, have the learners begin to identify the words and/or phrases that describe the importance of trees according to President Roosevelt. As these words and/or phrases are shared write them on the poster board for everyone to see.

  4. Upon the completion of a comprehensive listing of words and/or phrases, explain to the class that President Roosevelt’s idea, while important and innovative to the Nation, was not a new idea because we can see the importance of trees in Biblical and Talmudic writings, dating back thousands of years.

  5. Distribute a copy of Attachment Two: Trees in the Bible and Talmud to each learner.

  6. Ask volunteers to take turns reading each of the Biblical passages and then pose this question “Why did G-d specifically write the prohibition of cutting down trees?” Allow for learner reaction and class discussion.

  7. Distribute a copy of the Attachment Three: Talmud,Ta’anit 23b: – a Talmudic story of Choni HaMagal to each learners

  8. Read the story of Choni HaMagal to the class having them follow along. Discuss the story and the importance of trees as related in this story.

  9. Following this discussion have the learners identify the words and/or phrases that describe the importance of trees found in both the Biblical passages and Talmudic story. Add any new identified words/phrases to the poster board, but circle any words/phrases that have already been written down on the poster board from the earlier activity.

  10. As homeworktell the learners to think about people, like the Old Man in the Choni HaMagal story, who influences (has influenced) and helps (has helped) generations. Encourage them to share this assignment with their families for additional suggestions and considerations.

  11. Day Two:Teacher Note: Download and make one copy for each learner of the JNF Tree Planting form, . This form can be downloaded at or obtained by calling 888-JNF-0099)


  12. Introduce the class to The Jewish National Fund (all information can be viewed at and discuss the importance of this organization.

  13. If they have not already done so, inform the learners that they are to identify their final selection of the person who they feel has or is influencing and helping generations.

  14. Distribute copies of the JNF Tree Planting form, one for each learner and explain that each of them will be planting a tree, through JNF, in Israel in honor of their chosen person.

  15. Have the learners fill in the information required on the JNF form.

  16. Conclude this lesson by having the learners write a letter explaining to the person the reason that they are planting and dedicating a tree in their honor/memory.Teacher Note: Letters do not need to be mailed, but should at least be handed in for assessment.


The learners will be assessed based on their participation in general class discussions, the depth and accuracy of their contributions during their study of the Bible and Talmud, and evidence of their awareness and understanding of the importance of trees and those who as influence (have influenced) and help (have helped) generations as reflected in their dedication letters.

Cross Curriculum 

The learner will identify a person in his/her life whom they feel has influenced and helped generations of people (perhaps a family member, a community leader, or anyone else they determine meets this criteria) and give a tree in their name (either “In Memory of” or “In Honor of”) to be planted in Israel through the JNF.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Discuss the role of family life in shaping a democratic society.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Analyze philanthropic traditions of diverse cultural groups and their contributions to civil society.
    2. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark HS.5 Give examples of stewardship decisions throughout history and in current events.
    3. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark HS.5 Identify and discuss civil society sector organizations working to build community/social capital and civil society resources.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.10 Identify reasons why historic figures acted for the common good.
      2. Benchmark HS.3 Describe and compare stewardship in a variety of cultural traditions.
      3. Benchmark HS.4 Cite historical examples of citizen actions that affected the common good.