So it's the holiday of Tu B'Shvat again this Shabbat, the well-known but oft misunderstood "birthday of the trees." According to Chabad.org, "On this day we remember that 'Man is a tree of the field' (Deuteronomy 20:19) and reflect on the lessons we can derive from our botanical analogue." Some mark the day by eating fruits native to the land of Israel, while others host a whole "mystical Tu B'Shvat seder" somewhat analogous to the Passover seder. And some people just hug a tree ;)
Today the Jerusalem shuk
was filled with music and costumed entertainers putting passers-by in the holiday spirit. I was surprised to see that such a big deal was being made for what I had thought was a slightly obscure holiday. It was all very nice, but probably a climb up Tree 9 would have been a more moving experience.
In any case, I have translated a short digest of a sicha
of the Lubavitcher Rebbe regarding Tu B'Shvat. For further learning, please see Chabad.org
. Please enjoy.
On this Shabbat falls Tu B'Shvat (the 15th of the month of Shvat), the "Rosh Hashana of the trees." Similar to the way that the first of the month of Tishrei (Rosh Hashana) is the Day of Judgment for each individual, likewise Tu B'Shvat is the Day of Judgment for trees.
There is a well-known statement in the Torah (Deuteronomy 20:19) that "Man is a tree of the field," and it is learned from this that there are parallels between a person and a tree, in the manner of the growth of the tree.
The tree is called in Hebrew tzomeach (lit. "growing") since it is always growing--starting from a small seedling in the earth, then becoming a small sapling, then a great tree, a fruit-producing tree.
And this is what a person can learn from a tree--to always be in a state of growth. It is not enough that today one learned Torah and fulfilled mitzvahs; tomorrow, you need to reach new heights, to learn more Torah and to fulfill mitzvahs even more beautifully, always striving to reach higher, and not to become content with what one is currently doing. And when a Jew strives to reach new heights, he or she is ensured the aid of G-d in those efforts.
(originally summarized in Hebrew from Likuttei Sichos, Section 2, Pp. 518-9)
I hope you guys gained some lessons from that botanical analogue.
In honor of this special holiday, the Chabad Student Center and Hillel will both be hosting special fruit-themed Shabbat dinners.Chabad Student Center
7:00pm - 10:00pm
Taste of the Tropics Shabbat
Fruit themed Shabbat Dinner: full dinner with a fruity twist and a fruit assortment for dessert. On this night Judaism celebrates the New Year for the trees. Why hug a tree when you can kiss a fruit?
Location: Chabad Student Center, 136 Iowa Drive, Santa CruzHillel
7:30pm - 10:00pm
Shabbat dinner this week will feature the fruits of Israel. After the four course meal (kosher meat with vegetarian options) we will enjoy the kabbalistic experience of a Tu B'Shevat Seder: four glasses of wine, symbolic fruits and nuts, and a chance to explore the 4 worlds: Physical, Emotional, Intellectual, and Spiritual. No background experience required. If you are an environmentalist, or Jewish, someone who likes trees, or just someone who likes wine, this event is for you. Spread the word!
Location: Santa Cruz Hillel, 222 Cardiff Place, Santa Cruz