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Peach Fuzz Lishma (for its own sake):(“Peaching, Not Preaching”)

But I don’t need to do this anymore. My only responsibility now is to eat the peach; and several nights later, to bake a pie or two to share with my book group. I don’t need to derive any powerful lessons (whether actual or contrived) from the orchard experience.

It’s a new way of living – but fortunately, as a Jew, I know a term for it – “lishma”. We are urged to study the Torah, for example, “lishma”, for its own sake, but not because we will derive some advantage – economic, professional, psychological – from doing so, but simply “for its own sake”. And so with peaches, and on a more macro level, nature itself. After 31 years of preaching, I need to re-learn how to do this.

In the meantime, I’m still a student at heart, so I can’t resist a peek at on-line descriptions of peaches and peach fuzz. I learn from Wikipedia that peaches are first mentioned in Chinese documents in the 10th century B.C.E., although the name “peach” derives from “malum persicum” (“Persian apple”); that Thomas Jefferson had peach trees at Monticello; and that there seems to be some debate about whether allergic reactions to peaches come from a reaction to the lipid transfer protein (LTP) in peaches, or the bristles on the fuzz itself.

My guess is that had I been preparing a sermon, I would have focused on either the hidden and unexpected dangers of nature (then connecting to the earthquake and hurricane of this meteorologically-challenging summer); or Korean traditions about the peach trees’ association with longevity and happiness. And there’s apparently also a Vietnamese story from the 18th century as well…

But for now, for this year, I’ll just stick with the tantalizing taste of the peaches themselves. And really appreciate them. There’s a lesson in that, too, especially for my over-achieving baby boomer cohort heading into retirement. Peach fuzz lishma… Nature for its own sake… life for its own sake.