Playing the long-game

Tree-based legacy thinking

I spent a lot of time thinking about legacy. Legacy is what we leave behind for the future. It is the result of our actions and how they live beyond us. They are the echos of our reputation, our intentions, and what we create.

In a world so focused on the short-term, there is a power in adjusting our thinking to further horizons.

There is a character in the Talmud, Honi the Circle Maker, who uses his powers to create rain, something that is certainly needed in the dry seasons. He is often in nature, roaming about. One of the stories about him goes like this, from ​Taanit 23a​:

One day, Honi the Circle Maker, was walking along the way. He sees a certain man planting a carob tree. He says to him, “Until how long will this tree take to give fruit?”He said to him, “until seventy years.” Honi said to him, “Is it obvious that you will live another seventy years?” This man said to him, “I found a world full of carob trees. Just as my ancestors planted for me, I plant also for my descendants.”

Honi asks this man if he believes his action today will impact him since he will certainly not survive seeing the “fruits of his labors.” Simply, the man replies that we did not wake up in a world newly formed but due to the hard work and legacy of those who came before us.

How might we act differently if this was a measure of our choices? What might we build if we thought long-term rather than short-term?

Thank you for reading! In my With Torah and Love newsletter, I write about Torah, Talmud, self-awareness, and becoming our best selves as students of life and Judaism.

About the Author

Rabbi Jeremy Markiz is a teacher and consultant. He teaches the Torah rooted in personal growth, kindness, intentionality, and bettering the world. He writes the With Torah and Love newsletter.

He helps clergy, congregations, and Jewish organizations grow and communicate clearly in the digital world, develop effective strategies, and solve problems with his consulting firm, Next Level Rabbinics.