The Mystical meaning of Tu B'Shvat


The Mystical meaning of Tu B'Shvat


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Tu B'Shvat Mystical Understandings

By J M Staff

The Mystical meaning of Tu B'Shvat (the 15th of the Jewish Month Sh'vat )

Tu B'Shvat is a festive day in the calendar of the Jewish People. Yet it seemingly has no real basis for being a festive day. No miracle or special event befell the Jewish People on this date. Tu B'Shvat is called the New Year for Trees. It marks the day when the trees begin to bud after most of the winter rains have fallen. Exactly what the connection is to the Jewish People is not very clear. True we take tithes from produce based on this date, but still, why should this be marked as a festive day? It is purely a time/date division.

To gain some insight into this day, we can recall the words of the prophet, Isaiah, (55:) who compares the word of G-d to the rain. "For as the rain and snow come down form the heaven and does not return there until it waters the earth, making it saturating and fruitful, ......, so shall be My word that goes forth out of My mouth - it shall not return to Me barren......" We learn form this that there is a comparative quality between the rains and the Word of G-d.

For a better understanding, it is necessary to realize that the tree, in Hebrew Alon   is numerically equivalent to 91. This happens to be the same numerical equivalent of two of the names of G-d, YHVH   -, which is numerically equal to 26 and ADNY   - which is numerically equal to 65. The two names add up to 91, which is the same as , tree. This points out to us that there is a relationship between them. That the tree is the connector between the heavens, as represented by the nameYHVH   -, and the earth, represented by the name ADNY  -.

A tree is also compared to a man. In Deuteronomy 20, it is written, "..a man is a tree in the field.." The Torah compared the man to a tree. In what way are they similar? A tree combines the upper world (heaven, rain) sand the lower worlds (earth, soil). From it, it brings forth physical nourishment, fruit. A man is also composed of elements from the upper world (soul) and the lower world (body). He brings forth spiritual nourishment for the soul, Mitzvoth. We see that the tree and the man have a comparable quality, they are both hybrids of the upper and lower worlds, and they both bring forth their fruits.

In the tree, it is the rain which descends from upon high, which gives the tree the ability to bring forth it's fruit. Similarly in man, it is the holy spark which descends from above which give man his inspiration to perform Holy acts.

Our year starts on Rosh Hashanah, and Judgment extends to Yom Kippur. Water is judged on Succoth. What will come of the man's personal judgment on the High Holy days? What will become of the judgment of water?

The rains may come in the proper time, such as the beginning of the winter. They will then supply the trees with their nourishment so they may give forth fruit. The rains may come at the end of the winter, being of no benefit to the trees and the fruit will be lacking. Also in man, the spark of Holy inspiration may descend at a propitious time, such as the time he is studying or performing a mitzvah. Or it may come at an improper time, such as when he is tired and preoccupied, and then that Holy spark of inspiration is wasted.

On Tu B'Shvat, the tree's sap has gone up into the tree and begins to cause the tree to bud. This is the sign that the tree will bear fruit. It is now four months after Succoth; a third of the year has passed. We see that the tree begins to blossom. The sap has gone up and although we do not see the fruit, we know that the bud is an indication of the fruit to come.

The same is true in man. Four months , one third of the year, have passed since the High Holy days . The holy spark has entered into the man one third. The Holy spark enters the man from the top, the head. Now it has reached the heart, which is one third of the distance down. This spark will now begin to push forth the man's fruits, the Holy acts that he will perform in the months to come. Because of this we rejoice and because we rejoice we know that the spark will do it's work bringing forth man's fruits.

This was adapted from Shem Me'Shmuel




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