The Torah’s prescription for parks and recreation

While the Israelites were still wandering in the desert, they were planning how to build their new lives when reaching the destination. They were about to cross the Jordan river near Jericho, when God tells Moses where each tribe shall live and how the cities for the Levites should be planned. It applied to all cities to be built in the future, said the Maimonides. The cities should have a certain percent of open areas around for parkland. It was meant as areas to beautify the city with flowers and bushes and trees. Around this an area for agricultural land; for fields and vineyards. The point was to leave a specific area around a city for greenery and recreation for city residents. 

The Five Books of Moses, the Torah, is a 3,500 year old regulation on how to live, even how to build our cities. The creator of the Universe knows we need the beauty of nature and its fragrances for our physical and mental health.

Sometimes, even in a busy city, the air is filled with the strong aroma of the tiny and night blooming jasmine, and sometimes, if we are lucky, we can smell the beautiful gardenia flower. These two fragrances, in my opinion, are the most outstanding fragrances on earth. It is so important, wherever we live, to put away our phones and gadgets once in a while to experience and feel the natural world around us.

It is with full right the Torah is called The Tree of Life, because it gives regulations on all areas of life, where everything is to our own benefit and wellbeing. The 304,805 letters of the Torah, dictated by God to Moses, have been carefully guarded by the Jewish people. So much so that there has been nothing like it in history or in any religion. Writing a Torah scroll by hand has to be completely free of human error to be valid and kosher. Moses wrote 13 separate Torah Scrolls during his life time. Twelve he gave to each of the Tribes. The 13th was placed in the Ark of the Covenant.

Master of the Universe, the source of all life, gave us the greatest gift. Its’ wisdom provides harmony to all who engage in it. Having tasted true life, one cannot be satisfied without it. Shabbat Shalom!

About the Author
Born in Finland, Ruth Brunell lived in Australia for some time. She settled in Israel in 1996 with her husband and four daughters, and now lives in Jerusalem. Ruth has a variety of professions: cook, interior designer, and real estate agent.