Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tu B'shvat

The 15th day of Shevat on the Jewish calendar. It is the day that marks the beginning of a "New Year for Trees."
This is the season in which the earliest-blooming trees in the Land of Israel emerge from their winter sleep and begin a new fruit-bearing cycle.

On this day we remember that "Man is {like} a tree of the field" (Deuteronomy 20:19) and reflect on the lessons we can derive from our tree-metaphor.

Trees, are continually growing and rise heavenward to great heights. This should likewise be true of us. Though our physical growth may cease, we should strive to continue growing intellectually and spiritually, never ceasing to develop.

We are nurtured by deep roots, as far back as Abraham and Sarah; we reach upwards to the heavens while standing firmly on the ground; and when we do all this right, we produce fruits that benefit the world—namely our good deeds.

We celebrate this day of Tu B'Shevat by eating fruit, particularly from the kinds that are from the seven species of produce for which Israel is praised: grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates.

Monday, January 25, 2010


YUD SHVAT. Mamor- Bosi l'gani...

Sixty years ago, upon the passing of the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, of righteous memory, leadership of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement passed on to his illustrious son-in-law, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory.

The Rebbe revolutionized, inspired and guided the post-holocaust transformation of the Jewish people that continues to this day.

The new Rebbe's discourse entitled Basi L'gani was in fact based upon the very discourse that his father-in-law had submitted a year earlier. He started off where his predecessor left off...

The words Basi l'gani are taken from Solomon's Song of Songs.

The garden is our world. Announcing His arrival here in this garden is G-d Himself—who refers to it not as "a garden," but as "My garden." All that He created belongs to Him, but of all the myriad spiritual emanations and worlds, there's only one that He refers to as "My"; because it is only here – in the very lowest realm – that He wants to call home. The divine light shines ever brightly in the supernal worlds, but only in this physical world does G-d wish to manifest His very essence.

His Shechinah (presence) was here when He created this world. But it was driven away by a series of sins, starting with Adam and Eve eating the fruit from the forbidden Tree of Knowledge. Subsequent sinful generations drove the Shechinah further away, as it ascended from one heaven to the next.

This was no glitch in the plan, it was anything but.

G-d envisioned a world characterized by frightful spiritual blackness wherein creations – possessors of free choice, capable of embracing the darkness or rejecting it – would repress the darkness, and ultimately transform it into light.

Through the difficult work of banishing and transforming the darkness, it becomes a beautiful "garden." A place that G-d is delighted to inhabit.

Abraham started the process of bringing the Shechinah back down here. The next generations continued the process that was completed by Moses, the seventh generation from Abraham—for, as the Midrash tells us, "All sevenths are precious."

At the giving of the Torah, G-d returned in full grandeur—"And G-d descended.upon Mt. Sinai" (Exodus 19:20). A few months later, G-d's presence graced the newly-constructed Tabernacle. This time the Shechinah was here to stay.

And G-d exclaimed, "I've come to My garden."

This day, so relevant to every Jew in our generation, is surely a day for reflection, learning, prayer, positive resolutions and acts of loving-kindness.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Yud - Shvat. A leader/shepherd. Rebbe spoke about Love..

Tomorrow is the 10th day of the hebrew month of Shvat, it marks the anniversary of the passing of the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn. And 60 years of leadership of Chabad-Lubavitch by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe or simply known as "the Rebbe".

What is a leader?

Before he became a leader of Israel, Moses was a shepherd.

The Midrash tells how one day, while Moses was shepherding the flocks a kid goat ran away. Moses chased after it, until they came to a spring and the kid began to drink. Exclaimed Moses: "Oh, I did not know that you were thirsty!" He cradled the runaway kid in his arms and carried it back to the flock. Said the Almighty: "You are merciful in tending sheep-you will tend My flock, the people of Israel."

Besides demonstrating Moses' compassion, the incident contains another important lesson: Moses realized that the kid did not run away from the flock out of malice or wickedness--it was merely thirsty.

When a Jew alienates himself from his people, G-d forbid, it is only because he is thirsty. His soul thirsts for meaning in life, but the waters of Torah have eluded him. So he wanders about in foreign domains, seeking to quench his thirst.

When Moses understood this, he was able to become a leader of Israel. Only a shepherd who hastens not to judge the runaway kid, can mercifully lift it into his arms and bring it back home.

The evening of his acceptance the Rebbe spoke about love -- about the interrelation between love of G-d and love of one's fellow. He stated, that The three loves -- love of G-d, love of Torah and love of one's fellow -- are all one.

A person who loves G-d, will eventually come to love what G-d loves -- all His children. And one who truly loves a fellow Jew will inevitably come to love G-d, since love of one's fellow is, in essence, the love of G-d.