Tu B’Shvat- ט”ו בשבט
Happy New Year…for the Trees!
The Talmud Bavli, Tractate Rosh Hashana, page 2a, records the following: “Beth Hillel says the 15th of the month of Shvat, ( this year, January 30th in the evening-January 31st), is the new year for the trees.” in Jewish law it is the fiscal calendar for the Jews living in Israel at the time of the Beit Hamikdash-בית המקדש, to tithe from the fruits the Torah mentions and bring them to Jerusalem as an appreciation of G-d’s blessings upon the Holy Land.
In commemorating this blessed event, on Tu B’Shvat we eat from the following fruits: dates, grapes, figs, olives, pomegranates, and products from barley and wheat.
The focus is on trees because in the Torah trees are described as a metaphor for human beings who are blessed for preventing the erosion of morales and ethics. Just as a tree provides a solid foundation for soil erosion, so do all of us have the opportunity and obligation to provide a solid foundation for the prevention of one’s soul erosion. Particular thanks to our law enforcement community whose task is to provide the prevention of erosion of civility for the laws of society.
So this Tu B’Shvat let us continue to be guided by the morals and ethics of the Torah to enjoy the fruits of our efforts in making this world a better environment for mankind.
Rabbi Tzvi Berkowitz
Rockwood Park Jewish Center
National Conference of Shomrim Societies
Chanukah is known as the Festival of Lights, and will be celebrated on December 12th,for eight days.
As we kindle the flame in memory of the Temple in Jerusalem almost two thousand years ago.We light the Menorah for eight days each night adding another candle, so that the light increases throughout the holiday.
Chanukah falls on the darkest time of the year not only on or near the Winter Solstice,but at a time in the Hebrew calender when the moon is new and therefore mostly hidden from view.
Rabbi Menachem Schneerson,one of the most influential rabbinic scholars of the twentieth century stated,”An amazing lesson is found in the mitzvah of the Chanukah Lights:Even in time of darkness, each Jew has the power to turn the home into a “Small Sanctuary”.
On Chanukah,we tell the story of a days worth of oil that burned for eight days. We also tell of the small army led by Judah Maccabee that defeated a much greater force, to regain control of the Temple of the Jewish people.
I am reminded of the words of Sir Winston Churchill,Prime Minister of England during WWII in summing up the achievements of the Royal Air Force pilots, in their battle with the
Luftwaffe,the Nazi airforce: ” Never has so much been owed by so many, to so few.”
Jewish history from its beginning to the present is the story of the few who stood up to the many.
A few days ago I noticed in an outdoor shopping mall a ten foot Menorah.My mind raced back to December 11th, 2011, when I was lead chaplain at Ground Zero for the Chapel of Four Chaplains,where the images of the Stars and Stripes were waving in an enormous pile of twisted metal and rubble together with the largest Menorah I have ever seen.
These two symbols should help all Jews to affirm life. Like the stars of our flag symbolize the light of freedom for all men, so too does the Chanukah Menorah,and in so doing we will not let evil succeed in defeating the spirit of a determined people.
Jews all over the world will light the Chanukah candles and bring the warm glow of light into the darkness.
May the bright light of the Chanukah candles bring hope and calm in the years to come.
On behalf of my dear family, I would like to wish all our members a beautiful peaceful and radiant year.
Chaplain Alan Edwards