Last night after we broke the Yom Kippur fast, I fell asleep and had a vivid dream. I was in a yard behind a suburban ranch house where two trees were growing. One tree was nearly barren. It had already flowered and given fruit and had shed most of its yellow leaves. The other tree had strong limbs and was bursting with green leaves. But as I stood admiring it, I noticed the soil at its base was rippling. The tree began shaking violently and the ground heaved a boiling swarm of beetle-worms, which were devouring the tree’s roots. A large section of the tree facing me calved off and crashed to the ground. Within two minutes the young tree was reduced to a flat pile of wet sawdust. Both trees were gone, and thick grass grew over where the trees had stood. There was no sign they had ever existed on the rectangular lawn. “Perfect space for a swimming pool,” observed a woman standing behind me.
Was this dream a response to yesterday’s Torah portion?
God saw what they did, how they were turning back from their evil ways. And God renounced the punishment He had planned to bring upon them, and did not carry it out.
This displeased Jonah greatly, and he was grieved.
He prayed to the LORD, saying, “O LORD! Isn’t this just what I said when I was still in my own country? That is why I fled beforehand to Tarshish. For I know that You are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in kindness, renouncing punishment.
Please, LORD, take my life, for I would rather die than live.”
The LORD replied, “Are you that deeply grieved?”
Now Jonah had left the city and found a place east of the city. He made a booth there and sat under it in the shade, until he should see what happened to the city.
The LORD God provided a gourd plant, which grew up over Jonah, to provide shade for his head and save him from discomfort. Jonah was very happy about the plant.
But the next day at dawn God provided a worm, which attacked the plant so that it withered.
And when the sun rose, God provided a sultry east wind; the sun beat down on Jonah’s head, and he became faint. He begged for death, saying, “I would rather die than live. ”
Then God said to Jonah, “Are you so deeply grieved about the plant?” “Yes,” he replied, “so deeply that I want to die.”
Then the LORD said: “You cared about the plant, which you did not work for and which you did not grow, which appeared overnight and perished overnight.
And should not I care about Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not yet know their right hand from their left, and many beasts as well!”