Tu or 15th of the month of Shevat is the new year - Rosh Hashanah of the trees, specifically the 7 species which the land of Israel were blessed with.
The Talmud says that there are 4 heads of the year; According to Beit Shamai, “The first of Nissan is the Rosh Hashnah for kings and Holidays, the first of Elul is Rosh Hashanah for tithing of animals, the first of Tishrei is the Rosh Hashanah of the lunar calendar year and the first of Shevat is the Rosh Hashanah for the trees.
In the opinion of Beit Hillel the Rosh Hashanah for the trees is on the 15th of Shevat” (Tractate Rosh Hashanah 2a). What is the inner significance of the 15th day of Shevat?
We celebrate the 15t of Shevat by eating 7 species of fruit (which 5 are fruits) that the land of Israel was blessed with: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranate, olives and dates. Why specifically these fruit? The verse says “for man is like the tree of the field” (Deuteronomy 21,19). What is the comparison of the tree to man?
Tree and Man
The special character of trees, specially fruit trees is that they are constantly growing and give life. Humans as well grow physically until adulthood, however, they continue to grow spiritually for the rest of their lives.
Man in Hebrew is termed אדם -Adam. Adam is an an acronym for א A- the name of G-d and דם Dam, blood, meaning, G-d is within the blood. Adam also comes from the meaning “I will resemble the higher one”. Man is made in the image of G-d and is meant to assume the divine qualities of his “higher self”.
When Adam and Eve were in paradise they ate from the tree. The verse says that there were two trees in paradise, the tree of life and the tree of knowledge. The tree of life is the connection to eternal life which is our connection to true life. The tree of knowledge is the identification with the senses and our animal soul, which can stray us from the path of truth. The key to living with the tree of life and becoming Adam, living a life tapped into our higher self, is through connecting to the spiritual essence of man, our G-dly soul.
Wheat in numerology is 22, which stands for the 22 letters of the Hebrew Alpha Bet. Encapsulated in these 22 letters is the depth and wisdom of the Torah. The Talmud states that a baby first calls to his parents once he eats wheat. Wheat triggers an intellectual recognition from the child to now discern who his parents are and to vocalize that recognition. The first stage of becoming man is learning the 22 letters of the Torah, which creates an everlasting connection with our father above.
Barley represents the knowledge of the animal soul. The Zohar says that שעורה stands for ה -שעור ,the estimation of Hey. G-d is known to each person through the estimation that they know him. Each person is given a different “animal” that they have to contend with throughout their lives. Each person is given different life circumstances and challenges that are tailor made from G-d for him.
This allows each person to have a unique and personal relationship with G-d and to connect to his soul mission in a unique, personal and intimate way. It is that knowledge of the barley, the makeup of our animal soul, which allows us to connect to our own unique mission, our own estimation of the Hey within, based on our spiritual makeup.
This is what King David says “now I know that G-d is great and highest from all other powers”. Only King David knew that G-d is great and no one else”. Rabbi Nachman of Breslov says that because of King David’s trials and tribulations, he saw the direct hand of G-d in all of his salvations from the myriad of challenges that he went through.
“Wine gladdens man and G-d” (Psalms). The Talmud learns from this verse that wine is brought as a libation in the Temple ( see class for an in depth explanation). Wine can be a conduit for reaching great spiritual heights. Therefore, wine is used on Shabbat for kiddush, the circumcision of a baby boy, a marriage ceremony, and as a libation for the temple. That is why wine and secret both equal 70 in numerology.
When wine comes in secret comes out. Wine therefore unifies the wisdom of the G-dly soul and the knowledge of the animal soul, by gladding it with a higher joy.
The Talmud states that the tree of knowledge that Adam and Eve ate from was a fig tree. Immediately after eating from the tree, they recognized that they were naked and covered themselves with the leaves of the fruit they ate from. After the gladding of the G-dly and animal souls, comes the performance of Mitzvot- good deeds. It is not enough to know the truth in potential and to be “spiritual”. We have to walk the walk, with the day to day action oriented Mitzvot.
The pomegranate seeds represents the 613 Mitzvot. In the pursuit of action, a person can sometimes become deluded by forgetting the inner purpose, which is to be mindful of the actions we take.
The pomegranate’s seeds are amazingly packed up in the fruit, to teach us not to “bunch up Mitzvot”. When some performs a Mitzvah he is absolved from doing any other Mitzvah because the Mitzvah is the only Mitzvah in the world and includes all other Mitzvot.
As one grows and connects in a deeper and deeper way to his G-dly soul and animal soul, coupled with the proper action based positive deeds, one reaches an inner depth soul connection, symbolic of the oil which the olive fruit yields.
The Zohar calls this process “transforming bitter to sweet, from dark to light”. In our growth and transformation to living the tree of life, we have to overcome many struggles in our way. The inner purpose is for us illuminate our existence with the light of Torah and performance of good deeds.
Dates represent, sweetness, divine pleasure -“the bliss of G-d”. That is the highest level we can achieve. To taste the sweetness and live by seeing paradise, the sweetness of G-d everywhere, is the ultimate fixing of Adam and Eve, and living by the higher Adam. The Land of Canaan to the Land of Israel The land of Israel is called the “land of the 7 nations”.
The 7 nations represent the 7 negative attributes of the animal soul. The conquest of the land of Israel by Joshua represented transforming the land of the 7 nations to the land of Israel. Israel means “straight with G-d”. Tu B’Shvat is celebrated by eating the fruits that the land of Israel was blessed with, representing the transformation of darkness into light, bitter to sweet, living as Adam, straight with G-d, and tasting the sweetness and ultimate bliss of life.
From a Kabbalah Academy Class on The Cycle of The Year
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