TODAY'S MESSAGE IS DEDICATED
IN MEMORY OF
ABRAHAM Ben ROSA, A "H.
by EDDIE and HELEN SHAMAH AND FAMILY.
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The holiday of TU b'SHVAT is known as the new year of the trees. Contrary to popular belief, unlike the holy days of Rosh Hashanah, the new year for human beings, the trees are not judged on this day. Actually the trees are judged as well of the fruits that grow on them on the holiday of Shabuot. The reason why this day is called the new year of the trees is it comes at a point in time when in the holy land of Israel most of the rainfall has already fallen for the season. Our rabbis calculated that at this point in time the sap in the trees starts to flow. Therefore, it is called the new year of the trees.
Around the world, Jews have a custom at this time to eat many different types of fruits that grow as a gift from Hashem. Many communities have a custom to conduct a Seder-like meal where they eat different fruits in a special order and say different blessings and prayers to Hashem relating to each of the fruits. Many seek out an individual fruit that they haven't had all year long in order to say the blessing of She-hehiyanu on this night. If someone were to have more than one new fruit -- the blessing is only said once for all off the new fruits that a person might enjoy at one sitting. This rule of a single blessing only applies if all the fruits that require the blessing are in front of the person at the time when he says the blessing for the first time. Although, as we have stated, no trees are judged on this particular day, many have a custom to pray for the success of the Citroen crop so that they may find a beautiful Etrog for the holiday of Succoth.
There are several lessons one should keep in mind on this day. Firstly, the Torah says, “For the man is the tree of the fields”. The sages teach as a tree must be protected from harsh weather and from harmful insects so too a man must protect himself from the negative influences of society –the media, philosophies and immorality that bombard a person on a daily basis.
Secondly, one should assess the manner in which one recites berakhot –blessings. One is required to say a blessing before partaking of the pleasures of this world. How often one mumbles the words, is not concentrating on the meaning and rushes through the “formula” required permitting the pleasure to the individual. As we consider the beautiful fruits and say the appropriate blessings one should evaluate one’s blessings and resolve to improve their effectiveness.
Thirdly, one should remember that if a tree has strong roots then it could support many wide branches. However, if a tree has many branches and weak roots then even a light wind can blow the tree over. A person’s roots are one’s dedication to the study of Torah. Men must dedicate a set time to the daily study of Torah to shore up their knowledge of all aspects of our Holy Book. Women must study all the laws that pertain to the proper conduct of their lives as head of the “bayit ne-eh-man” – Torah-true Jewish household. By strengthening or roots each of us will enable our people to survive the hurricane winds of exile and merit the coming of the Mashiah speedily and in our days.
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