On Wednesday evening, January 27, there was an explosion of joy and beautiful divrei Torah live-streamed by Chazaq, Breslov.live, and TorahAnytime.
Rabbi Yossi Katz, Founder of Breslov Live, introduced this beautiful program. The goal of his organization, he shared, is to bring Rebbe Nachman’s teachings to the world. Rebbe Nachman’s teachings can transform our lives and they are more relevant today than ever before.
He shared that Tu BiSh’vat is the birthday of Rabbi Nasan, the talmid of Rebbe Nachman, who was responsible for disseminating Rebbe Nachman’s teachings to the world.
This time of year, we have short days and long nights and it’s cold outside. Nature is rejuvenating now, even though we can’t see it. Rabbi Nasan taught Rebbe Nachman’s teaching that just as nature is rejuvenating this time of year in nature, so, too, in a desperate situation we are getting ready to lead a greater life of meaning with renewal and growth.
Mr. Joey Newcomb, singer, performer, and musician, shared a stellar performance next. Mr. Necomb shared that trees look dead, but inside so much is going on – just as now, we are preparing for Mashiach.
The music was so uplifting that you literally couldn’t listen and sit still. You had to beat out the rhythm and stand up and dance and clap – there was no choice about it. Definitely, I recommend listening to this concert if you ever feel blue; it will change your mood instantly. While strumming one song, Mr. Newcomb shared a story about the Baal Shem Tov. One Motza’ei Yom Kippur, the moon was blocked by clouds so they couldn’t recite Kiddush Levanah. The Baal Shem Tov went in a room to daven and speak to Hashem, requesting that the clouds move, but nothing happened. In the meantime, his chasidim were dancing outside and then the clouds parted. The Baal Shem Tov noted how much can be accomplished by being b’simchah.
The music Joey Necomb sang and played went straight to your heart. He shared messages along with the music. “We’re all here to thank Hashem and to realize that everything is from Him.”
“It’s never too late to correct your mistakes. It’s never too late to start over again.”
“A Jew never gives up. You can start over every day.”
The last song was one from Yosef Karduner that has the beautiful message that “I’m happy when I make Hashem happy.”
Following this, Rabbi Katz shared ideas about Tu BiSh’vat. There is a halachah that you can’t eat the fruit from a tree for the first three years of its life. It’s considered orlah or uncircumcised. We count from Tu BiSh’vat. He pointed out that the Torah is called Eitz Chaim, a tree of life. On Tu BiSh’vat there is renewal and we feel more life when we grab onto Torah, which is a tree of life.
He posed the question, “Which character trait is the prerequisite to gain Torah knowledge?” He responded that humility is the key.
Moshe brought the Torah to klal Yisrael and he was the humblest of men. Rebbe Nachman teaches that there are three levels of subjugating one’s ego. The first level is to feel humble before those who are greater than you. The second level is to feel humble in front of those who are on the same level as you. The third level is to lower yourself before those who seem spiritually inferior to you. We do this when we remember that every person has a special virtue. We must find that trait and allow that to define them; then we can accomplish these three levels. These three levels parallel the three years of orlah. The klipah or peel is negative spiritual energy. We have to wait to enjoy the fruit by cutting ourselves off from negative spiritual forces.
Rabbi Katz shared the teaching of Rebbe Nachman that “the power of Tu BiSh’vat is taking fruit that was connected to negative forces, which is ego, and transforming ego to healthy G-dly self-worth.”
“The way to abolish ego is to realize that you only have your accomplishments because of Hashem.” When you can do this, then all the brachos and spiritual brachos will draw you closer to Him. Tu BiSh’vat teaches us how to praise and thank Hashem. “It teaches us how to transform from ego to G-dly self-worth.”
Next, Shimi Fried and Friends, a musical group in Eretz Yisrael, played lively, beautiful music. The instruments included guitar, flute, drums, and a ukulele.
After that, Rabbi Jonathan Rietti, famous speaker, shared a quote from T’hilim, “This is the day that Hashem made.” The idea here is: If G-d designed this day, then everything is under His control except my choices. The verse continues: nagilah (let’s be joyful). This word nagilah has the meaning also of revealing. The psalm is saying it revealed a reason to be happy that I wasn’t aware of until now. Let us be happy in this day that Hashem made.
Tu BiSh’vat is about renewal. He pointed out, “I don’t know of a time in history where renewal has been more urgent.” He noted how we see a shift in family values, the security of certain freedoms is challenged, and so much is being sabotaged in the world in addition to dealing with the pandemic. “This time has affected the world globally with uncertainty.”
He stated, “There is so much disinformation, we don’t know what’s true anymore!”
He continued, “This is the footsteps of Mashiach. He’s so close you can hear him coming.” In this time, enemies can be in one’s own family. There are sadly so many divorces. The Mishnah teaches that the only thing we have to rely on is Hashem. No one knows what’s going to be tomorrow. “It’s reality that G-d wired the universe to be constantly in a state of renewal. Sunrise, sunset.” Even our body renews itself. Every few weeks, you have a new layer of skin. Even bone tissue is renewed every six years. He added as a side point that this is a good reason to pay attention to your diet. The choices we make in food make 100 trillion cells renewed by the quality of our nutrition. We need energy to build our immune system.
We are in the midst of World War III. This is not in a physical sense but there is a battle for your mind. We have to ask ourselves if we will fall on the side of emunah, certainty, and conviction – or media, with its constant bombardment of information. The media’s information is contradictory and emphasizes bad news. It sews the seeds of confusion.
Renewal is wired into our bodies. We have to ask ourselves if we will rent our mind to the media with worry and anxiety, or to emunah with Hashem and clarity.
Chazal teach us that the purpose of wisdom is t’shuvah to change the direction of our actions. “T’shuvah is the purpose of creation.” Rebbe Nachman taught that renewal is in the creation. We have to let go of past mistakes we made and that other people made. “Renewal is letting go of yesterday and not worrying about tomorrow.”
He taught that you can’t have more than one thought at a time, so you are always one thought away from a new thought.”
Rabbi Rietti added that there is never despair in G-d’s reality. We can start again. Every effort counts. Every mitzvah counts. “You’re never imprisoned by circumstances.
This event can be viewed on Breslov.live.
By Susie Garber