“For the Lord is bringing you into a good land … a land of wheat and barley, vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey.. and you shall eat and be full and you shall bless Hashem for the good land that he has given you.” (Devarim 8:8-10)
In the book of Bereishit, the Torah accounts the details of how man was placed in the mapped out Garden of Eden, a place where G-d Himself planted an array of trees and vegetation, outstanding of which were the trees of Life and Knowledge. Adam is commanded not to eat from the tree of Knowledge but he was seduced into eating the eye catching marvelous looking fruit. As a result of this act he was expelled from Gan Eden and prevented from re-entering it. His level of consciousness was completely changed and therefore he was banished to another place. (The garden could not contain him in this state). In order to ensure that he would not turn back, 2 guardian angels were placed at the entrance to the garden, holding flaming rotating swords. Chazal say they were the Cherubim.
There are many realms in which this expulsion was rectified. The first was Abraham entering the Land of Israel, likened to the Garden of Eden. Abraham was on the level of the first man because he was the first to believe in G-d. Later on, when the children of Israel entered the Land after wandering through the desert and receiving the Torah, they reached this level comparatively too. The “parish” of Israel now contained Israelites. This level of rectification is preserved for roughly 1,400 years (with a 70 year exile in between) until the destruction of the second temple, with the Jewish people being completely banished and scattered all over the world. This exile resembles the shattering of the vessels and chaos again rules in the garden of Israel (Eden). This chaos has been endured for 2,000 years. But – miracles happen in this world as much as the world has a hard time accepting them. The branches of the trees that lay dormant for SO long begin to sprout. Looking back into world history at the mighty nations and empires that have risen and fallen, we see only their relics in museums. Where is the Roman empire today? It is only the Children of Israel that have been an empire and ARE an empire today.
How does this connect to Tu B’shvat? The rectification of the relationship between man and tree takes place on this virtuous day, the New Year of the Trees. The dormant days of winter are just about over and the trees germinate at this time exactly. This means that it is the New Year for planting and determining the date of a tree from the time of it’s planting. This applies solely to trees in the Land of Israel. It is a designated day for rejoicing in Israel’s fruits. As the hours of sunlight begin to increase from this day on (until Tu B’av) the notorious almond trees blossom, looking like an array of white and pink wedding gowns, the now green hills the wedding canopy. Now that the Jewish people are being restored to their land the cure for the exile is indeed in reclaiming the Land, like a bride being restored to her betrothed.
The fields, olive groves and vineyards, the hothouses and all the branches of agriculture make the Land a permanent possession and bring to mind the blessings given to this land. Here on Itamar we witness this vision coming true. We are very proud that Israel is one of the top high tech countries in the world. We feel proud when we see her super modern skyscrapers and achievements in sports and cinema. But, the key to her success is in the simple tilling of her soil, bringing her out of her long slumber. Aside from clearing the rocks and planting there are also other projects that are vital to the people that live here. Complacency is not an option for any Jewish person today in the world. There are many ways to be a part of this redemptive process. By joining the people that bring the Land to life, you are being brought to life!
What better sign of the redemption than actually seeing the verse of the prophet come to life: “But you, O mountains of Israel shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to my people for they will be soon be coming!” (Ezekiel 34)
We pray to be able to eventually bring the bikkurim to the Holy Temple (may it be rebuilt speedily in our days) which is the highest level of representation of the Garden of Eden. There, the Cherubim will witness the High Priests eating and rectifying the fruit of the trees of Israel, the Garden of Eden.
Shabbat Shalom! Leah Goldsmith
· For all those who want to participate in our tree planting project, please send your tax-deductible donation to: Friends of Itamar and earmark- Tree Planting. · Please come to Itamar and see the gardens and many trees already planted!
*As far as Holiday tips-I will share something with you. The month of Shvat is the time of the rectification of eating (according to Kabbalah). I guess the winter bears have gone overboard, but anyway, wherever I look there is always white flower and sugar in all the goodies that can be made. It’s really pretty yucky. The other night I threw (literally) some vegetables into a pan based with olive oil. They included: fresh garlic cloves, green pepper strips, fresh mushrooms, zucchini, sweet potatoe strips, cherry tomatoes and leeks. I drizzled onto this some more olive oil (home made) and a little ginger powder and garlic powder. Put into a hot over for 40 minutes- you WILL have some satisfied family and friends wanting you to make again soon. Bon Apetite and a happy and healthy New Year to the trees!
Shabbat Shalom Leah Goldsmith