Jewish law recognizes the semi-festive nature of this day by listing it as a day on which prayers that mention our sins are omitted, as they are on Shabbat and holidays. There is also a widespread custom to eat a variety of fruits today (the famous Kabbalist R. Yitchak Luria would eat fifteen kinds!) specifically the special fruits the Land of Israel is praised for; grapes, olives, pomegranates, dates, and figs.
But why should we celebrate a day which is merely the a day to determine the age of trees? What relevance is there to warrant having special observances amongst humans?
The truth is, we have a lot more in common with trees than meets the eye. The Torah is full of references comparing mankind to trees, most famously the verse from the book of Deuteronomy discussing the prohibition of cutting down fruit trees in a time of war. “Is man a tree of the field?”, the verse asks. According to commentaries (Ibn Ezra for example), because mankind depends on fruits for their food, the verse is meant to be read, “for Man is a tree of the field”.
We can see the similarity. Just as trees have roots, a trunk, and bear fruit, so does mankind have roots which keep him anchored. In our case, the roots of every Jew must be our faith in G-d. Our trunk corresponds to all of our good deeds, learning Torah and doing Mitzvot. And our fruits are how we are able to impact others, so they may grow into trees themselves. As the Talmud says (Taanis 5b) “Which blessing do we give to a tree who already has everything good? That its fruits and later descendants should be like it as well.”
We are preparing for Purim, and as we all know, one of the central Mitzvot of Purim is the reading of the Megillah (the Book of Esther) from a special scroll. We are planning on having at least two public readings of the Megillah, (and possibly a few private readings), but as of now, Chabad of Southern Mississippi does not yet have a Kosher Megillah Scroll. The price is about $600. Anyone who would be willing to help us sponsor this necessity, would be very appreciated, and this would be a great merit for you and your family as it would help many Jews observe this Mitzvah properly.
Wishing you and your families all the best and continued blessings.
Rabbi Akiva Hall