Blessing the Trees with Moscow’s Children

Marina Roscha’s central shul in Moscow has not only multiple minyanim and Torah classes, but it also has special programs for the younger generation, mainly the children under Bar Mitzva age. Chevra Tehillim, Davening programs, Avos u’Vanim, quizzes on parts of davening, and more. All this is overseen by the dedicated gabaim, under the leadership of Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar, who encourages and guides the wonderful activities which make a huge Kiddush Hashem among the hundreds of attendees, many of which are seeing for the very first time such Chassidic warmth and enthusiasm among children. The pure voices loudly proclaiming “amen, yehei shmei rabba”, or sweetly chanting verses of Tehillim leave a lasting impression.

Every year during the month of Nissan there is a special “Birkas ha’Ilanos” event for the shul’s children, which is also when they are awarded prizes for davening and learning. This year, Moscow’s weather is still cold and wintery, and it is impossible to find flowering trees in the city. With Hashem’s help, a special permit was obtained from Moscow’s municipality, and the children were brought to a special greenhouse full of fruit trees in Moscow’s Botanical Gardens. This garden is the oldest in all of Russia and has been working for the last 315 years! The park’s management did everything they can to help with the event, and they didn’t hide their excitement either.

The event was opened with remarks from the Chief Rabbi, who spoke about the importance of davening out loud, and reciting Tehilim out loud. He also said that in Birkas Ha’Ilanos we say that Hashem created this world for people to enjoy, as the Lubavitcher Rebbe said that this entire world is called “gani”, “my garden”. This means that the world has everything needed for a person’s physical pleasure, and man must utilize all this in order to serve Hashem. We must also recognize that what seems like “nature” is really Hashem’s constant miracles, like when we say Birkas Ha’ilanos we are thanking Hashem for all of His creations, and for watching over them every single day.

Then all the participants emotionally said the blessing on the trees together out loud. They continued with verses of Tehillim and Torah, and concluded with giving tzedaka to the central Gmach. After receiving refreshments, the children were treated to a fascinating tour of several of the greenhouses which house spectacular flowers and trees, some of them being extremely rare. The well behaved children and their quiet and orderly manners caused a big Kiddush Hashem and became the talk of the day amongst the staff and management of the gardens.

Photography: Levi Nazarov

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