GOOD MORNING! The story is told of a little boy's first day in Sunday School. The rabbi gives the class a tour of the synagogue and explains the Ark, the Eternal Light and other interesting features. The little boy sees a big brass Memorial Board with U.S. flags on it and asks the rabbi, "What is this?" The rabbi replies, "Oh, this is very important. It is a memorial to all of the people who died in the Service." The little boy turns white, starts to shake and then asks, "Friday night or Saturday morning?"
We see that ignorance can have profound affects and effects. It can also deprive one of enrichment of knowledge and insights into life and personal growth. Here's something that you might find interesting about Tu B'Shevat, the New Year of the trees.
Q & A: WHAT IS TU B'SHEVAT AND HOW IS IT CELEBRATED?
Monday, January 28th, is Tu B'Shevat. Unbeknownst to many Jews, there are four "Rosh Hashanahs," New Years, in a calendar year (the first Mishna -- teaching -- in the Talmudic tractate of Rosh Hashanah):
- The first of the Hebrew month Nissan is the New Year with regards to counting the years in the reign of the Kings of Israel.
- The first of Elul is the New Year with regards to tithing of the animals. (One out of ten animals born within that calendar year from Elul until the beginning of Elul the following year was given to the Temple.)
- The first of Tishrei is the New Year for the judgment of mankind -- for life and death, rich or poor, sickness or health -- as well as for counting the Sabbatical Year (Shmita) and the Jubilee year (Yovel) for the land of Israel; the counting of the first three years of a fruit tree when the fruit is not allowed to be eaten (Orlah), and calculating the tithes for grain and vegetables.
- The 15th of Shevat is the New Year for trees with reference to calculating tithes due to be given from fruit of trees in the time of the Temple in Jerusalem.
Tu B'Shevat is a festive day. The Torah praises the Land of Israel with reference to the fruits of the trees and the produce of the soil:
"A land of wheat and barley and vines (grapes) and fig trees and pomegranates; a land of olive trees and (date) honey ... and you shall eat and be satisfied, and bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you." (Deut. 8:8-10)
The Jewish people rejoice in the fruits, in the Land and in the Almighty Who has given us life.
It is celebrated by eating the special types of fruits for which Israel is renowned: dates, pomegranates, figs, grapes -- and buxer (carob or St. John's bread -- I don't think he was Jewish, though). It's also celebrated by planting trees in Israel and if you can't get to Israel, you can purchase trees to be planted in Israel from your local Jewish National Fund Office.
Torah Portion of the Week
The Jewish people leave Egypt. Pharaoh regrets letting them go, pursues them leading his chosen chariot corps and a huge army. The Jews rebel and cry out to Moses, "Weren't there enough graves in Egypt? Why did you bring us out here to die in the desert?" The Yam Soof, the Sea of Reeds (usually mistranslated as the Red Sea) splits, the Jews cross over, the Egyptians pursue and the sea returns and drowns the Egyptians. Moses with the men and Miriam with the women --each separately -- sing praises of thanks to the Almighty.
They arrive at Marah and rebel over the bitter water. Moses throws a certain tree in the water to make it drinkable. The Almighty then tells the Israelites, "If you obey God your Lord and do what is upright in His eyes, carefully heeding all His commandments and keeping all His decrees, then I will not strike you with any of the sicknesses that I brought on Egypt. I am God who heals you." (This is why the Hagaddah strives to prove there were more than 10 plagues in Egypt -- the greater the number of afflictions, the greater number from which we are protected.)
Later the Israelites rebel over lack of food; God provides quail and manna (a double portion was given on the sixth day to last through Shabbat; we have two challahs for each meal on Shabbat to commemorate the double portion of manna). Moses then instructs them concerning the laws of Shabbat. At Rephidim, they rebel again over water. God tells Moses to strike a stone which then gave forth water. Finally, the portion concludes with the war against Amalek and the command to "obliterate the memory of Amalek from under the heavens."
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
During our 40 years sojourn in the desert, we were attacked by the nation of Amalek. While the battle took place, Moshe stood on the top of a hill and raised his hands towards the heavens. This reminded the Jewish people to subject their hearts to the Almighty so that they would succeed and be victorious over Amalek. The Torah states:
"And the hands of Moshe were heavy and they took a rock and placed it under him and he sat on it." (Exodus 17:12)
Why did Moshe sit on a rock and not on pillows?
Rashi, the great commentator, informs us that Moshe sat on a rock and not on pillows because he did not want to sit in comfort while Jews were in danger and suffering. He wanted to feel their suffering and to share it. Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz teaches that this is a lesson for us regarding how to feel another person's suffering. Don't just imagine the pain of another, but do something physically to actually feel his pain.
Empathy is such an important attribute that we should make every effort to feel for another person. By being aware of how a little discomfort bothers us, we can have greater empathy for others --especially those coming to our door or meeting us in the street asking for tzedakah!
CANDLE LIGHTING - January 25:
(or go to http://aish.com/candlelighting)
Guatemala 5:40 Hong Kong 5:49 Honolulu 5:59
J'Burg 6:44 London 4:19 Los Angeles 4:59
Melbourne 8:21 Miami 5:41 Moscow 4:30
New York 4:47 Singapore 7:01
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
If you do not stand for something,
you will fall for anything.
In Honor of