The Trees of the Talmud by Jacqueline Jules

“If you have a sapling in your hand and someone tells you the
Messiah has arrived, first plant the sapling and then go out to
welcome the Messiah.” – Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai

Talmud sages
cite the old man
cheerfully planting
a carob tree, unbothered
by the seventy year wait
for the chewy pods
fondly recalled from youth.
Nevermind that a carob tree
yields in seven years, not seventy—
the Talmud and the Torah
don’t offer logical numbers.
Only advice to plant first
and welcome the Messiah later.
To put every sapling in the ground
without counting how many years
before you or your children taste fruit.

Jacqueline Jules is the author of three chapbooks, Field Trip to the Museum (Finishing Line
Press), Stronger Than Cleopatra (ELJ Publications), and Itzhak Perlman’s Broken String, winner
of the 2016 Helen Kay Chapbook Prize from Evening Street Press. Her work has appeared in
numerous publications including Cider Press Review, Potomac Review, Inkwell, Hospital Drive,
and Imitation Fruit. She is also the author of 40 books for young readers. Visit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *