Dr. Mitzvah was out in his garden. He had pulled up a row of dead rose bushes, cleared out all the weeds, and was busy digging a deep hole when his cellular phone rang.
"Hello there! Dr. Mitzvah here!" he answered. "Who's calling?" He listened for a moment and said, "Don’t worry Mr. Brick. I'll be right over. I'm sure it's nothing serious." Dr. Mitzvah went into the the house for his doctor's bag.
"The garden will have to wait. My patients come before my roses and trees," he said. And off he went.
A while later, Eric and Mark rode by on their bicycles.
"Hey look! Dr. Mitzvah's garden is a mess. It never looks like that!" said Eric.
"That's not a mess. He's working in it," answered Marc.
"No he's not. He's not even here. I wonder what he was digging that hole for. Maybe he's looking for treasure!" said Eric.
"I don't know, but let's surprise him and help dig it out." The boys parked their bikes and went to work.
A few minutes later Sally and Sarah walked by. "Hi! Whatcha doin' in Dr. Mitzvah's garden?" they called. "Digging for treasure?"
"Maybe," said Eric. "Wanna help?"
"Nope, but we'll watch," they said.
Soon David and Bruce skated by.
"Hi! What are you all doing in Dr. Mitzvah's garden?" they asked.
"They're digging for treasure," giggled the girls.
"Really? Let's help!" David and Bruce found two hoes in the shed and went to work. The hole was getting deeper and wider.
"What do you think we'll find here?" asked Bruce.
"I dunno. With Dr. Mitzvah you can never tell. Maybe it's an old army fort from the time of the Indians! Doesn't this look like an arrowhead?" Eric was examining a small stone.
"Personally, I think this looks more like a hurricane shelter," said Sally.
"We don’t have hurricanes in this part of the country," objected David.
"Hey! Here's an old coin. Do you think it's gold? Maybe someone really buried treasure here!" said Bruce.
"Silly! Look at the date on the coin. It's says 1947! That's not even one hundred years ago!" said Sarah.
"But it's more than fifty. That makes it old, doesn't it?" asked Sally.
"Sort of old, but not old enough to be buried treasure!" answered Sarah.
"Treasure?" asked a new voice. "Did someone say something about treasure?"
The boys looked up from the hole. "Dr. Mitzvah!" everyone shouted. "How do you like our work? Didn't we do a swell job? Look how big and deep the hole is!"
"It is a lovely hole, but why do I need such a big hole in the middle of my garden?" he asked.
"We don't know. You tell us! What were you digging for? Hidden treasure? Did something exciting happen here?"
"Not that I know of. Actually, I was digging a smallish hole to plant a new tree in honor of Tu B'Shvat."
"Tu B'Shvat? That's all? That's not very exciting." They children looked disappointed but Dr. Mitzvah looked surprised.
"Of course Tu B'Shvat is exciting! It's the 15th day in the Hebrew month of Shvat. Tu b'Shvat marks the beginning of a New Year for Trees. Isn't that exciting?"
"Well, maybe, sort of, I guess. But it's not as exciting as finding secret treasure!" insisted David.
"But a tree is a treasure, and planting one is an exciting adventure. If you bury coins, nothing much happens. They'll just get muddy or rusty. But plant a seed or a sapling, and before you know it, amazing things begin to happen! Tiny roots dig down into the ground. Stems and leaves pop up and reach for the sun. And one morning, you have a living, growing creation outside your window!"
"Look at the trees," continued Dr. Mitzvah. "On Tu B'Shvat the trees still have no leaves. They look bare and dead after the winter. But inside the trunks and roots, where no one can see, a secret process is in the making. Sap is rising and tiny buds are forming. Soon the trees will be ready to put out their Annual Spring Surprise and bloom again."
"If you say so," mumbled Bruce. He didn't sound very convinced.
"But meanwhile, what are we supposed to do with this big hole we dug? It's enough for an orchard of trees!"
"We dug it, so we'll fill it back up," said David, "so that Dr. Mitzvah won't have to."
"Gee, what a waste of time this was," said Eric.
"No it wasn't," said Dr. Mitzvah. "Not at all. You dug a wonderful hole, Eric. Now I can plant five trees instead of just one. I think I'll plant an apple tree, an almond tree, a fig tree, an olive tree and a palm tree for dates."
"Figs, olives and dates? There are no fig, olive or date trees in Cedarville," said David. "I don't think we have almonds either. We have mostly oak and spruce trees."
"That's true," answered Dr. Mitzvah. "But figs, olives, dates and almonds all grow in the Land of Israel. Winter isn't over yet in Cedarville, but in Israel, when Tu B'Shvat arrives the almond trees begin to bloom. They announce that Spring is on the way!"
"Olives and apples like cold weather," said Sarah. "but palm trees need warmth and lots of sun. Do you think they can all grow together in one hole?"
"In a big, deep, wide, wonderful hole like this, I'm sure they'll all thrive."
Sally smiled. "Only Dr. Mitzvah could think that a hole is wonderful."
"Or that a tree is a treasure!" said Mark.
"That's because most things in God's world are wonderful treasures," answered Dr. Mitzvah. Our job is to take care of them. Tu B'Shvat is a great time to begin. I'm going to buy five Tu B'Shvat Treasure Trees for that wonderful hole you dug - right now!"
And off he went with his doctor's bag in one hand, his hoe in the other, and his grey bowler hat on top of his head.
JUST PUBLISHED: THE TRAVELS AND TALES OF DR. EMANUEL J. MITZVA (Doctor of Mostly Everything). Available from Feldheim Publishers.