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    Tu B’Shevat, the 15th of Shevat, also
    known as Rosh HaShanah L’illanos, the
    New Year for Trees.
    While it may still be cold outside, with the
    winds blowing and the tree branches bare,
    life beneath the tree bark is beginning to stir.
    The Talmud teaches that the 15th of Shevat
    is when the sap within the tree starts flowing,
    giving the tree potential to produce fruits.
    Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, zt”l wrote
    regarding Tu B’Shevat, “Behold, today they
    are celebrating the birthday of the coming of
    spring. Under the torn, dark, cold bark, fresh
    life pulsates.”
    While all may seem dark to us, HaShem is
    preparing the trees to give forth fruit in the
    months ahead. On Tu B’Shevat, trees
    emerge from their winter sleep and begin a
    new fruit-bearing cycle.
    Tu B’Shevat is a time to take a lesson from
    the tree. Just as the sap begins to rise and
    flow within the tree, we must tap into our
    “personal sap” – our inner potential. As the

    tree sprouts buds, and eventually fruits, we
    too have the ability to grow our own “fruits”
    – our accomplishments. As the tree is given
    the gift of renewal after the dark winter, we
    are given the opportunity for a new
    beginning and fresh start.
    Tu B’Shevat always falls around the time
    in which we read Parshas Beshalach.
    Beshalach tells the story of the Jewish
    nation finally breaking away from the
    shackles of Egyptian slavery. What is the
    connection between Tu B’Shevat and the
    As the sap brings new life to the tree, the
    Exodus brought a new a beginning to Am
    Yisroel. Like the tree that transitions from
    winter to spring, the Jewish people left the
    darkness of slavery behind them, and
    experienced a true “spring” as a free nation,
    able to worship HaShem. The Jewish nation
    sang shira – songs of praise to HaShem as
    they crossed the sea. They were infused
    with a new spirit, to thrive and produce their
    own “personal trees” of mitzvos and good
    Just as a tree’s strength is in its roots, so
    too, our “roots”, the life lessons of ancestors,

    our Torah and our faith strengthen us.
    The Torah likens man’s life to that of a
    tree. “…Ha’adam eitz hasadeh… Man is
    like a tree of the field.” (Devarim 20:19). A
    tree is alive, it grows, and changes from
    season to season. Its leaves change color,
    eventually falling off, leaving its branches
    bare. But then comes spring. Slowly, the
    branches fill with leaves. The buds start
    opening. The tree is lush once again.
    So too with man. We experience many
    changes in our life. We are at times strong,
    at times vulnerable. We should take the
    lesson of the tree to heart, and never give up
    on ourselves. At times we may feel like
    leafless branches, empty and forlorn. But
    spring always follows winter, and the tree
    grows and thrives once again.
    There is a beautiful story related in the
    Talmud of two sages, Rav Nachman and
    Rav Yitzchak, who were about to take leave
    of each other. Rav Nachman asked Rav
    Yitzchak to bless him. Rav Yitzchak
    responded with a story of a man traveling
    through the desert. The man felt weak and
    tired. His throat was parched, his stomach
    empty. Suddenly, there before him was the
    answer to his prayer. A most beautiful
    fruit tree, with a brook running alongside
    The tree provided him with shade,
    cooling him off. The juicy fruit satisfied
    his hunger, while the stream was a source
    of fresh water to quench his thirst.
    With revitalized energy, the man readied
    himself to continue on his journey. Before
    departing, he wanted to bless the tree for
    all that it gave him.
    “Ilan, Ilan, Tree oh tree, bameh
    avorechacha, with what can I bless
    you?…” With fruit that will be sweet?…
    With branches that will give shade?…
    With a stream of water that flows beneath
    you?… You already have all this. I have
    only one blessing. “May all that is planted
    from you be like you.”
    Rav Yitzchak thereupon said to Rav
    Nachman. “With what shall I bless you?
    With Torah? With prosperity? With
    children?” You are already blessed with
    all these. Therefore, my blessing is that
    “May it be the will of HaShem that your
    offspring will be like you.” (Talmud
    Taanis 5b-6a)
    What a powerful bracha. Through the
    ages, this meaningful bracha has become
    the quintessential blessing that we wish
    parents and grandparents. The blessing of
    having descendants who follow in their
    footsteps. The blessing of “the apple not
    falling far from the tree”

    The Ben Ish Chai, Rabbeinu Yosef Chaim
    of Baghdad (1832-1909), teaches that Tu
    B’Shevat is a propitious time to pray for the
    fruits we use to observe various mitzvos.
    Grapes for kiddush and havdala, and the
    arba minim – the four species of the esrog
    and lulav.
    On Tu B’Shevat, there is a custom to make
    brachos and enjoy multiple fruits. Some
    even try to partake of fifteen different fruits
    in honor of the 15th of Shevat. Another
    custom is to taste from each of the Shivas
    Haminim – the Seven Species that Eretz
    Yisroel is praised for. “A land of wheat and
    barley, of grapevines, figs and pomegranates,
    a land of olive trees and honey from dates.”
    (Devarim 8:8)
    There is a story about a man in need of a
    major refuah who approached HaRav
    Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, zt”l, seeking
    advice on how to beseech HaShem to have
    mercy upon him.
    “I will tell you what I would do in such a
    situation”, said Rav Shlomo Zalman. “I
    would strengthen myself in the reciting of
    brachos, making sure to enunciate each
    word carefully, clearly, and with proper
    concentration. If I were to succeed in that,
    that would be for me a great
    (Meah Berachos K’Hilchasa, Ner L’Elef
    This Tu B’Shevat, as we say our brachos,
    let’s try to concentrate a little harder on the
    words, to really thank HaShem for His
    Tu B’Shevat’s message is to find our inner
    sap, to realize our potential, and utilize all
    the good which HaShem bestows upon us
    each and every day. It is a time of renewal,
    not just for trees and fruit, but for our own
    personal growth as well.
    The Hebrew month Shevat is spelled shin,
    beis, tes. It is an acronym for a message of
    hope. Shin – Shenishma, we should hear;
    Beis – Besuros, news; Tes – Tovos, that is
    good. We pray that the month of Shevat
    should herald good tidings. As winter
    becomes spring, blessing should come our