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 effects and affects. 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.


Thursday, February 8th, 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 Hashana):

  1. 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.

  2. 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 were given to the Temple.)

  3. 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.

  4. 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

This week we conclude the Ten Plagues with the plagues of locusts, darkness and the death of the first-born. The laws of Passover are presented, followed by the commandment to wear tefillin, consecrate the first-born animal and redeem one's first born son. The Torah tells us that at some time in the future your son will ask you about these commandments and you will answer: "With a show of power, God brought us out of Egypt, the place of slavery. When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us leave, God killed all the first-born in Egypt, man and beast alike. I, therefore, offer to God all male first-born (animals) and redeem all the first-born of sons. And it shall be a sign upon your arm, and an ornament between your eyes, for with a strong hand the Almighty removed us from Egypt." (Ex. 13:15)


Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states, "And Moshe and Aharon came to Pharaoh and they said to him, 'This is what the Almighty, the Lord of the Hebrews said, "How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go and they shall serve Me" ' " (Exodus 10:3). What can we learn for our lives from Pharaoh's lack of humility?

The great commentator Rabainu Bachaya writes that the Almighty requests a person to submit his will to the Will of the Almighty and this takes humility. Pharaoh was a very arrogant person and refused to humble himself and therefore this caused his own downfall.

Unfortunately, there are many people who cause themselves problems in life because of their arrogance. It is their arrogance which makes them retaliate when someone slights them in some manner. A person with humility would remain silent and that would end the matter. The arrogant person answers in an attacking manner and this prolongs the quarrel.

A person with humility will ask forgiveness when he wrongs someone, even if he feels that the other person is more to blame than himself. The arrogant person will not ask for forgiveness even when he knows that he is really at fault. A person with humility will reach out to others when he needs help. The arrogant person will feel that it is beneath his dignity to show that he has any weaknesses and will suffer rather than do what he considers belittling himself.

In what ways do you cause yourself needless suffering because of arrogance? What will you do to overcome this fault?


Jerusalem  4:37
Guatemala 5:44  Hong Kong 5:54  Honolulu 6:04
J'Burg 6:41  London 4:33  Los Angeles 5:06
Melbourne 8:15  Miami 5:47  Moscow 4:47
New York 4:51  Singapore 7:02


He who excuses himself,
accuses himself.
-- Gabriel Meurier

Dedicated by...

In Honor of
Steven Sablotsky
Sheldon H. Becher