Dvar for Acharei Mot/Kedoshim (Leviticus 16:1-20:27)
Parshiot Acharei Mot and Kedoshim discuss many rules involving morality, justice, kindness, and empathy. Nestled in the middle of Parshat Kedoshim are the instructions to plant fruit trees and not enjoy their fruits until the fourth year (19:23). Why did the Torah insert this law right between laws involving illicit relations?
While most may focus on the rules regarding the tree’s fruits, Rabbi Henach Leibowitz points to the commandment of planting the tree itself as an opportunity for growth. By planting fruit trees, we are considering the future and planning for it. Not only that, but the fact that we’re paying it forward also reflects our recognition for all the kindness shown by those who came before us. While the various commandments are meant to inspire within us a sense of morality, justice, and empathy, the placement of this commandment is meant to recognize those who have performed kindness for us and to compel us to relay those values forward.