I think it might have been the ripe, red strawberries on Cantor Dubinsky's milestone birthday cake that brought Uncle Irv to Torah study last Shabbat.
During minyan, she'd chanted from Kedoshim, beginning with verse 23:
When you enter the land and plant any tree for food, you shall regard its fruit as forbidden. Three years it shall be forbidden for you, not to be eaten. In the fourth year all its fruit shall be set aside for jubilation before the Eternal; and only in the fifth year may you use its fruit -- that its yield to you may be increased. I the Eternal am your God.After we'd all enjoyed the cake and the celebration, our Torah study conversation started with a discussion of trees and fruit -- and the difference between letting ripe fruit drop to the ground versus not letting it grow in the first place. All of a sudden, it was as though Uncle Irv was sitting next to me in that already crowded classroom. I remembered the bed of strawberries Amy and I planted and watered under his firm tutelage -- with a row of alternating marigolds and bachelor buttons in front, one way organic gardeners keep the bunnies away.
How excited we were when green shoots, followed by vines and then small white flowers finally appeared. And, oh how disappointed when he instructed us to nip off every last one of the delicate, yellow-centered flowers.
"Why??" we whined, less than thrilled by the whole gardening thing he was trying to teach us. According to Uncle Irv, it would ensure a bountiful crop of sweet berries in a few years.
Who knew we were learning Torah right there in the backyard?