In this elegant and eloquent guide, quotations from the Torah, the Midrash, and Chasidic Masters blend seamlessly with author Andy Becker’s own gardening tips and tales. His thoughtful reflections range from the bitterness of horseradish to the sweetness of raspberry jam, and are gorgeously illustrated by University of Washington artist Abigail Drapkin.
The Spiritual Gardener: Insights From The Jewish Tradition To Help Your Garden Grow
Courtesy of Andy Becker
General Discussion Questions
1. What Jewish values are most brought out or exemplified through gardening?
2. Have your connection to and experiences with Judaism intersected with any of your experiences gardening or feeling connected to nature?
3. Is gardening a mitzvah?
4. What is our responsibility to the natural world? Should all species of flora and fauna be maintained? (Examples: invasive weeds and mosquitos vs. acclaimed endangered species?)
Questions By Chapter
1. Gan Eden (Taking Action): Have you ever started a garden area from scratch? How does an idea turn into action
2. Seed Catalogs (Bal Tashchit): How often are we unthinkingly wasteful in our daily lives?
3. Turn Over(Transformation): How is the mundane transformed into the holy?
4. Tick Tock Early Spring Gardener(Time Management): Does Judaism teach time management as the author suggests? How do you personally avoid procrastination?
5. Creepy Crawly (Metamorphosis): How do you feel about bugs, slugs, and worms?
6. Weeds(Humility): Does gardening teach humility? Is humility a good quality to cultivate?
7. Lawn Envy (Envy): How much of gardening is just plain showing off?
8. Damn Wabbits (Esau-type Feelings): What do you think about trapping animals? What does Judaism teach about the animal world?
9. Bay Leaves and Parsley (Smell): Does the sense of smell bypass the intellect?
10. Reap What You Sow (Setting an Example): In life, how often do we really reap what we sow?
11. Horseradish(Bitterness): How do we confine bitterness in our lives?
12. Raspberry Jam (Division of Labor in Marriage): How do successful couples fairly divide chores in marriage?
13. Mr. Mole (Ethics of Hunting): Under what circumstances do you think hunting is ethically right or wrong?
14. The Green House(Having a Best Friend): During what period in your life did you make your best friend?
15. Planting Trees (Caring for the Natural World): How, if at all, does being surrounded by nature make you feel better?
16. The Old Catalpa (Old Age): How is a person like a “tree of the field”?
17. Borscht(Diversity): Have you ever made borscht? What are your favorite Jewish family recipes?
18. Abundant Garden Abundant Peace(Benefits of Gardening): What are the benefits of gardening that you enjoy the most?
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