Emunah Based on the Teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

Posts tagged ‘Tu B’Shevat’

Spirit of the Law: Tu B’Shvat


Almond Trees in Blossom

Almond Trees in Blossom

Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Chapter (140 #26) :

“The fifteenth of Shevat is Rosh Hashana for trees…The custom is to eat many different species of fruit on this day.”

I: Rav Nosson of Breslov, zt”l, writes that every human being is always longing for Hashem. A Jew’s longing for connection to Hashem is even more powerful. Usually, this longing gets channeled into other areas. People mistakenly think they yearn for money, honor or physical pleasures such as food. Attaining these never satisfies in a lasting way however, since the source, the inner desire for closeness to Hashem has not been addressed, just stifled.

When the Maharil Diskin, zt”l, was asked why the gemara compares the sinners of Israel to a pomegranate, he responded “A pomegranate has a hard exterior upon which no good is noticeable. It is only if you open it up, and delve into it’s depths that one finds the many, many good seeds in the Rimon.” Even if you peel off the outer shell you see only the white insides. You only find the seeds by breaking through the bad. Similarly, every Jew is a neshama kedosha which is always yearning with a powerful longing for his source. “

On Tu B’Shvat the sap begins to rise in trees. It is partially due to this process that the tree later develops in the spring. This is why it is Rosh Hashannah for trees.

The verse states, “Man is as a tree of the field.”The “sap” of each person is the hidden inner essence of each person, their fiery longing for Hashem. Like the sap of trees, the inner essence of each person is aroused on Tu B’Shevat. Connecting to our inner longing is the prerequisite for all spiritual growth.

This is one reason we eat fruits on this holy day. We acknowledge the correlation between bearing spiritual fruits and arousing our powerful yearning for Hashem. The more we connect to our powerful inner longing for Hashem, the more spiritual fruit we will bear in the coming year. The less we connect, the more this longing will be misdirected towards the material and the less spiritual growth we will yield. It is our choice.

May Hashem help us to grow and thrive, and bear an abundance of spiritual fruit.

II: On the subject of Tu B’Shevat, the Chidushei HaRim, zt”l, shares a very powerful concept: the “new year’s” judgment of Tu B’shvat primarily determines one’s access to novel Torah concepts (chidushei Torah) for the upcoming year.

Rav Nosson of Breslov, zt”l, writes that there are two levels of chidushei Torah. The first is the joy and rapture of bearing and sharing the fruit of one’s Torah learning, bringing down and sharing novel Torah concepts. This is the spiritual root of the sweetness of fruit to the palate. Without this feeling of sweetness, a person has virtually no genuine connection to Torah even if he or she learns assiduously and innovates novel interpretations. The second, lower, level of chidush is accessing a feeling of renewal and connection from every bit of Torah learning, prayer, and avodah even when there is nothing objectively novel about the concepts in which one is immersed. One still feels a powerful joy and connection, and this is the ultimate fruit of Torah study, as we say in the daily blessing: “Hashem, please make Torah learning sweet in my mouth.”

courtesy of A Fire Burns in Breslov


Various Halachos relating to Tu B’Shvat

By HaRav Shimon Anshin shlit”a

A.  Praying for a Mehudar Etrog on Shabbos

In light of the previous weeks’ Halacha series dealing with what one is permitted to prayer for on Shabbos, it is in permissible to prayer for meriting a Mehudar Etrog for the upcoming Sukkos, following that which is written in the Sifrei Hakodesh about Tu B’Shvat being an auspicious time (Mesugal)  for praying for such an Etrog.

B.  The Bracha to be said on Dried/Sugared Etrog

“… Borei Pri Ha’aetz” when eating either the flesh or the rind of the sugared Etrog.  We do not however make a Shehechiyanu on the Etrog for numerous reasons brought by the Poskim.

Note: it is important to realize that there is in fact no specific obligation to make a Shehechiyanu on Tu B’Shvat (and therefore one should not be concerned if they cannot find a new fruit on which to make a Shehechiyanu.)

C. Blessings related to the Fruits before and during the Seudah

One who eats the fruits before the Seudah, needs to make a Bracha Achrona (after blessing) – Birchas Hamazon does not cover his obligation.  If one commences the Seuda and forgets to make a Bracha Achrona, he must make a Bracha Achrona during the Seuda and even if he forgot and made Birkas Hamazon, he is still obligated to make the Bracha Achrona afterwards.

One who eats the fruits during the Seuda, needs to make Bracha Rishona over the fruits then, but should not make a Bracha Achrona, as it will be covered by his Birkas Hamazon.

One who eats the fruits before the Seuda with the intention of eating the same fruit during the Seuda as well, should have in mind when he makes the blessing before the Seuda to cover the fruit during the Seuda as well.  That being the case, he should not make Bracha Rishona for the same fruit during the Seuda and also should not make a Bracha Achrona on the fruit that he ate before the Seuda, as it too will be covered by his Birkas Hamazon.

D.  The order of the Brachos:

One who eats various types of food, should ensure to make the blessing on the most important fruit among them, as is decreed by Chazal.  There are may laws associated with this, so we will mention only those laws relevant to Tu B’Shvat itself.

If one wishes to eat fruit from the 7 species which are in front of him, he should make the blessing on them before any other types of fruit.  However, even within the 7 species themselves, the order of precedence is as follows:

1. Olives, 2. Dates, 3. Grapes, 4. Figs, 5.Pomegranates

One should know that this order of precedence is only related to which fruit to make the blessing on first.  However, once the blessing has been made, there is then no specific order as to which of the remaining 6 fruits one has to eat.  Nor is it a requirement to eat all of the specific fruit on which one has made the blessing – rather, one only need taste a little of that  specific fruit before moving on to the other fruits.

Note: If one wishes to drink wine, its blessing takes order of precedence over the 7 species.

TRANSLATOR’S NOTE:

As this is a translation of the original Hebrew, if you are unclear on any of the Laws outlined herein in any way whatsoever, please consult with a Posek (Halachic Authority).

TU B’SHEVAT- BLOSSOMING ANEW

By Rabbi Avroham Kletzky shlit”a

Question:

What is special about Tu B’Shevat being the New Year for trees, and what relevance does it have for me?

Answer:

Tu B’Shevat is the introduction to Purim.

We are now within forty days before Purim. Now is the time to ask and beg Hashem at every opportunity to save us from our spiritual adversary Haman and Amalek. The days of the month of Shevat are the starting point from where we will gather the strength to erase the memory of Amalek on Purim, and to leave Mitzrayim on Pesach.

When we motivate ourselves to yearn for the joy of Purim, the question is always asked, how can we begin to be happy? Where do we get the strength for that?

This is why we have Tu B’Shevat, which is itself a very novel idea which requires faith in the Tzaddikim – belief in the words of our sages.  Chazal fixed this day as the New Year for trees, which has many Halachic ramifications, such as Ma’asrot and Orlah, etc. This seems puzzling, because it would make more sense to start the year by when the fruit is harvested, just as we do by vegetables, or at least when the fruit has grown at least a third, as we do by grains. But Chazal set the date by the day the fruit takes hold, a time when we see nothing. In colder climates trees are actually wrapped now to protect them. Chazal are teaching us that the New Year for trees is even before we can see anything.

The Tzaddikim reveal even further, that even when we can’t even see the start, still, whoever believes in Chazal knows for certain that he did get off to a good start. Even if the tree looks dead, it’s still totally alive. When we will understand this we will be able to await our salvation, and to proceed towards Purim and Pesach.

Question:

If all Tu B’Shevat is just about a metaphor for a person, as the verse says, “For Man is like a tree in the field”, what is the significance of eating fruit?

Answer:

It’s not just a metaphor comparing a person’s renewal to that of a tree. This is the entire idea behind Tu B’Shevat, to take the fruits of Eretz Yisroel and to taste their sweetness. We taste the sweetness and pleasantness of attaching oneself to Hashem through the fruits of Eretz Yisroel, a sample of what will be revealed in Moshiach’s times, the means of attaching to Hashem through song and praise.

That’s why we have a custom to taste fruits, to recite Berachos aloud, to thank Hashem for the wonderful and diverse tastes which He created. We praise Eretz Yisroel and the G-dliness revealed within it, and which will be revealed with the coming of Moshiach.  This is how we make a new start in always reciting Berachos with concentration and in reciting a hundred Blessings daily, which has the power to save us from spiritual illness and morbidity.

Let’s engrave within ourselves this wonderful path, that even though now we only see the beginning of the fruit, and we are literally holding at the onset of the growth of the sweet fruits, we are still so sure of our ultimate salvation that we are already blessing and thanking Hashem.  Like someone walking through a desert, hungry and thirsty, and crossing upon something to eat like juicy grapes, etc. Can we imagine the excitement he has with each bite? We believe that at least that much will be our excitement with the sweetness of cleaving to Hashem.

This is the proper start and preparation for Purim and to triumph over the dejection which Amalek tries instilling within us.

Practically speaking, we must keep in mind that even if it seems that the world is still and dry, in truth the whole universe is playing a song for Hashem.  Amalek conceals and hides this wonderful and pleasant sound, and even “shows” us that Yiddishkeit and Emunah are difficult and “weighty”.

Shevat is the month in which Moshe Rabeinu began teaching us the Mishne Torah (Devarim), which is the sweet and pleasant reprimand of the Tzaddik in which Emunah obtains the melodic notes which draw our souls closer to Hashem with such sparkling that a person throws away all of his confusion and heaviness, mania and bitterness, and starts to understand that everything that he’s going through is only because he doesn’t have the Torah and the song of the Tzaddik.  All this because Amalek has “swallowed” his mind.

At the beginning of Tishrei, which is Rosh Hashanah, the Tzaddik stands in the way of Amalek’s “swallowing” and causes him to “vomit” out all of the holy sparks which he had already swallowed. This Tikkun is completed on Sukkos, the holiday of ‘gathering”, when all of the holy sparks return and are gathered back into holiness.

But there is still the New Year for trees, when the sparks once again start entering the trees to become part of the pleasant song.  We therefore strengthen ourselves already now, at the beginning of the blossoming, to taste the sweetness of Hashem, to renew our listening to the Tzaddiks’ teachings, to recite blessings with concentration, with song and praise.

(See LKM II 8, Likutei Halachos, Orloh 3)

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