On Monday evening, January 25, Rabbi Dovid Goldwasser, well-known speaker and author, shared a shiur about Tu BiSh’vat hosted by Chazaq, Birkat Eliyahu (a shul in Far Rockaway), and TorahAnytime at Birkat Eliyahu.
Rabbi Goldwasser shared that Tu BiSh’vat is not in the Gemara or the Chumash, but in the Mishnah it is referred to as the Rosh HaShanah of the trees. He noted that Tu BiSh’vat is the beginning of a break in the long cold winter, and this is when the sap starts rising in the trees. This is a chizuk to us. Even as the world is in lockdown, now a new period of time is coming. It’s the beginning of spring. Tu BiSh’vat is all about the fruit of the trees.
He noted how on Shavuos we offer the first fruits. So, why do we celebrate with fruits on Tu BiSh’vat? It should be all about the trees. On Shavuos some shuls create a chupah with trees over the bimah. The great Rebbe of Satmar taught that trees are the parents. They want to say, Look at the peiros – the children. Look how each one is so nice. On Shavuos, the fruits – the children – say, Look at our wonderful parents.
He pointed out that on Tu BiSh’vat we do not recite Tachanun. It’s omitted just as it is omitted on Rosh Chodesh, on Purim, on Chanukah, and on Yom Tov, as well as on Shabbos. Some say that the reason is that there are some sad words in Tachanun, and you lower your head when reciting it. We don’t want any sadness on Tu BiSh’vat, because it is a day of great simchah.
We should have in mind on this day that this year we should have a good esrog. There is a minhag to eat different peiros and it is a segulah to eat from an esrog during the day or night of Tu BiSh’vat. If a person needs to take maaser, it’s calculated from Tu BiSh’vat.
He continued, then, speaking about the connection to Rosh HaShanah, a day of judgment. We don’t say Hallel then, because the world is being judged. There is trembling and fear on Rosh HaShanah. On Tu BiSh’vat, all the trees are being judged for drought, pestilence, or locusts – this affects our parnasah. We are dependent on agriculture. On Rosh HaShanah it is determined which countries will be at war or at peace. Yet, we find that Rosh HaShanah is a big day of joy.
We eat a festive meal and we smile. There is not supposed to be sadness on Rosh HaShanah. “The enjoyment of Hashem is our strength. We are not supposed to be unhappy that day because it’s for the entire year. We don’t eat anything bitter and we don’t go to sleep. “Rabbi Goldwasser said it’s important not to argue with anyone on Rosh HaShanah. Even though it’s a little scary, it’s a great day of joy. A person receives forgiveness and he’s with Hashem.
He shared that in the Talmud it says that Hashem created darkness and night when every beast stirs around. Night is this world. Beasts and evil people stir around. The reason is to give us a test. It looks to us like evil people get away with what they do, but Hashem watches and He exacts punishment. We don’t see what happens to evil people. Hashem never takes merit away from someone. Rosh HaShanah gives us an opportunity to do t’shuvah. Rosh HaShanah and Tu BiSh’vat have the purpose of helping us to realize that Hashem is in our world and He is our King. The trees are all a gift from Hashem. “Everything here in this world belongs to the Borei HaOlam.”
Rabbi Goldwasser shared a story about Rabbi Shimon, a great tzadik. One day, Rabbi Shimon was walking in Israel where he lived, and he was hit by a police car. While awaiting the ambulance, the officer came out of the car and asked what he could do for him. The rabbi asked him to take it upon himself to keep Shabbos. A young irreligious couple witnessed the accident and also what the rabbi said to the officer. They were moved by what the rabbi said and they decided to visit him in the hospital. When they came to the rabbi, he said it was a big simchah to see them and he asked if they heard what he said to the officer. They told him they did, and then he spoke to them at length about the beauty of Shabbos. The husband was so moved by this that he kissed the rabbi on the forehead and he said he would try to keep Shabbos. The couple eventually became shomrei mitzvos. Rabbi Goldwasser noted that this couple saw someone going through a difficulty and they were able to still recognize Hashem.
This world is like night, and in Pirkei Avos it teaches that this world is like an entry hall to the Next World. A person has to prepare himself to enter the big hall. We need to focus on the good and on the opportunity we have while still in this world to recognize Hashem in everything we do. “Every day presents a new opportunity to face a new challenge.” Torah turns on the light in the darkness of galus. It dispels all the darkness.
Rosh HaShanah and Tu BiSh’vat are days of simchah and goodness. Tu BiSh’vat is a big yom tov for us.
This beautiful shiur can be viewed on www.TorahAnytime.com.
By Susie Garber