Every holiday illuminates a pathway for spiritual development and serves as a touchstone to our past and anchor for our future. We experienced the fall festivals of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot and recently celebrated Chanukah. In a few days, we will journey through the New Year of Trees, the 15th of Shevat. What is its message and meaning for the modern world? Join me for a few days of discovery and personal growth.
Here is a glimpse…
If you were planting a tree and someone told you the Messiah is here, what would you do? Would you continue planting or welcome the Redemption. Jewish tradition teaches that you finish planting the seedling and then greet the Messiah. Why? The answer unlocks the secret of the upcoming holiday of Tu B’Shvat.
Historically, the 15th day of the Jewish month of Shevat marked the time to determine which fruit were tithed. (See Tractate Rosh Hashanah 1:1). On a deeper level, the holiday celebrates the sap rising in the tree. The awakening amidst a frozen and frigid winter season signifies the beginning of the process of rebirth and rejuvenation. Even when externally we witness no signs of growth, internally transformation is occurring. The coming of the Messiah begins with the stirring beneath the surface of change and our belief in the possibility of realizing our national and personal potential.
When the messiah arrives, we finish planting the tree precisely because the act of placing a seed in the ground and anticipating its flowering embodies the spirit of redemption. Although redemption is at hand, we should never stop investing and dreaming in the future.
Beginning on the 11th of Shevat, this Monday and culminating with the 15th of Shevat, this Thursday, we will explore four dimensions for growth. The themes will be:
- The Giving Tree
- Bless the Tree
- Savor the Tree
- Plant the Tree
A tree on Tu B’Shvat looks perceptively no different than the day before Tu B’Shvat. Yet, we know the sap is rising. Each of us possesses a living soul yearning to grow. May the upcoming holiday inspire us to rediscover all of our potential for holiness and our eternal connection to G-d and the Jewish people.
Plant Four Trees for Life, Share Your Inspiration and Join the Journey!
Rabbi Daniel Cohen