Tu Bishvat, the beginning of the time of mercy.
Heard from Rabbi Zev Leff:
The B’nei Yissachar mentions a disagreement in the Gemara about when the world was created; Tishrei or Nissan? Actually it means when man was created – the 1st of Tishrei or the 1st of Nissan, which means the world was actually created (6 days earlier) either on the 25th of Elul or on the 25th of Adar.
40 days before conception the heavens are already preparing for a child… 40 days before creation God was preparing for the creation of the world. So if it’s the 25th of Elul the preparation starts on the 15th of Av and if it’s the 25th of Adar it’s on the 15th of Shevat.
So there’s a connection between Tu bishvat and Tu b’av.
They’re also both connected to trees.
One of the reasons we celebrate Tu b’av, is that they finished cutting the wood for that year to be used on the mizbe’ach, the alter on that day.
So when was the world created? It was ‘thought of’ in Tishrei but ‘in action’ it was created in Nissan which means as it says: originally it was to be created with only justice and then Hashem added mercy. It doesn’t mean He changed His mind. It means there are two dimensions. Existing simultaneously. These two dimensions gravitated to wards two time zones. The dimension of din, justice, gravitated towards Tishrei and the dimension of mercy gravitated towards Nissan. Therefore Tishrei is all about judgement and Nissan, mercy. (The Targum translates ‘pesach’ as mercy).
The 40 day preparation for the time of mercy is now. And it has a connection to fruit trees.
It says ‘Ha’adam eitz hasade’ – man is like the tree of the field. The Maharal says that we look like a tree: a trunk, limbs, roots- like our hair. But we’re upside down. We’re not standing upside down, we’re just rooted in the heavens! The main part of the tree is the roots. The word eitz, tree, can be broken down into 2 letters: Ayin, meaning look. And Tzadi- righteous. Look and you’ll see a tzaddik by where his roots are.
Therefore if we want to maintain a spiritual posture, we must be rooted up there.
How to prepare for the Rosh Hashana of din? The way is to put yourself totally in God’s hands. We cut the trees on Tu b’av signifying negating ourselves, burning it on the alter.
But now on Tu Bishvat we’re preparing ourselves for the time of mercy. Hashem doesn’t want us to negate ourselves and subjugate ourselves but to be dynamic and produce fruit.
We eat fruit, that are vibrant.
The Meiri says that Olam Haba, the world to come, is not a different world to this world, it’s the fruit of this world. Here is where plant and there we reap.
Here’s where you prepare your share in the next world. Put in the effort and reap the reward in the next world. This world is all about planting trees. The fruit is in the next world.
When Avraham came to Eretz Yisrael he saw idol worshippers planting and ploughing and said ‘This is where I want to live’. Even though they were idol worshippers he saw that Eretz Yisrael is conducive to this philosophy. Even the idol worshippers were effected. It’s in the air. A tzaddik is someone who puts effort in for the future and is not looking for immediate gratification.
What is the thing that is crucial to producing the best fruit? Water. Torah is compared to water.
Tu bishvat reminds us to prepare for the Rosh Hashana of Nissan by filling ourselves up with Torah, hard work, prayer, serving Hashem with joy and good deeds.
May we all merit to utilise this vibrant time and to open the gates of mercy and blessing ×××