web analytics
August 21, 2014 / 25 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



Home » Judaism » Torah »

Fruits, Buckets, And Holiness


Winiraz-011714

Judaism is a religion of growth. Hashem wants each individual to perfect himself in as many ways as possible. However, it is impossible to focus on everything at one time. Therefore, the Torah provides us with a calendar, which compartmentalizes different areas of growth into separate months. Each month, with a holiday as its focal point, is ordained as the time for us to work on a particular aspect of our service to Hashem.

The month of Shevat is no exception. But what do you suppose is the growth of Shevat? Tu B’Shevat – the New Year for the Tree – is scarcely even a holiday; the only observance of the day is found in a comment of the Magen Avraham that “It is the custom to eat many types of fruits on Tu B’Shevat.” What type of holiness can be found in eating fruits? Is there anything more mundane than eating? Even if the requisite bracha is recited, is there anything special about eating fruit with a bracha on Tu B’Shevat, or any other day in Shevat, more so than during the other months of the year?

Before attempting to answer this question, let’s add another to the mix. In Jewish thought, each month has a mazal (constellation) which embodies the essence of the month. The mazal of Shevat is D’li, which literally translates as “the Bucket,” but is more commonly known as Aquarius or the Water Bearer. Interestingly, not only is D’li the mazal of Shevat, it is also the mazal of Am Yisrael – the Jewish People. How can we understand these enigmatic ideas? What does Shevat have to do with buckets? Why is the kingly and precious nation of Israel compared to a bucket whose value is only defined through its function as a tool to contain something of greater value?

Let’s see if we can gain the understanding needed to answer these questions. Why did Hashem create us with a need to eat? Wouldn’t life have been simpler if we didn’t need food? So much time and money could be saved, and we would be freer to serve Hashem. Why then, did the omnipotent Creator make us deficient?

The answer can be found in Chovos Halevovos (Duties of the Heart; Gate of Bitachon, Chapter 3). “Hashem’s wisdom decreed the testing of the soul if it will serve Hashem or rebel against Him. The manner in which it is tested is in regard to the soul’s deficiency and need for externals such as food and drink. Hashem commanded the soul to seek out the externals in order to see how they will be sought…”

What this means is that Hashem only created us with a need to eat because eating is part and parcel of serving Him. Eating is not an unfortunate prerequisite to serving Hashem; eating is actually part of serving Hashem!

However, this is something that requires explanation. How can the self-serving act of eating be considered a mitzvah? I think the answer lies in understanding what exactly a mitzvah is. The Ramban writes at the end of Parshas Bo, “All mitzvos are extremely precious, for through them a person comes to acknowledge his Creator. Indeed, the objective of all mitzvos is that we will come to acknowledge our Creator, that He created us.” It seems from the Ramban, that everything in the world can be used for a mitzvah if only it is used to turn our hearts and minds toward Hashem. This calls to mind a story of a chassid who was traveling with his rebbe. By chance, they both took out an apple at the same time. The chassid jokingly commented that he and the rebbe were equal. The rebbe gently rebuked him. “You think we are the same? You make a bracha because you want to eat. I eat because I want to make a bracha.” Food can be eaten to fill your stomach. But food can also be eaten with the intent to recognize Creation and acknowledge the Creator. A bracha is not just a thank you. It’s an acknowledgement of where the food came from. The bracha is supposed to remind us to see Hashem in every bite. Look what Hashem created; the apple is so delicious. The orange is delectable. Where did it come from? Who made it? Hashem wants us to enjoy our food; that’s why He made it taste good in the first place. But He wants us to use these delicious creations as a mitzvah – to acknowledge Him as the Melech Ha’olam, the Master of the world.

About the Author: Shaya Winiarz is a student of the Rabbinical Seminary of America (a.k.a. Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim). He enjoys public speaking and writing Torah articles and essays. He can be reached for speaking engagements or freelance writing at shayawiniarz@gmail.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Fruits, Buckets, And Holiness”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Ashkelon home damaged in missile attack from Gaza on the eighth day of Operation Protective Edge, in July 2014. (archive)
Massive Rocket Barrage Blankets South
Latest Judaism Stories
Rabbi Sacks

Culture is not nature. There are causes in nature, but only in culture are there meanings.

Rabbi Avi Weiss

Rabbinic law is pivotal but it’s important to understand which laws are rabbinic and which biblical.

Reeh

We give slave gifts? If he wants to stay, we pierce his ear?!

Azrielli Tower - Shema Yisrael

A bit of (non-Jewish) history can help us understand this week’s Torah portion: In the early 1500s, the Catholic church was being fundamentally challenged by movements which claimed it had monopolized religious power and used to enrich the church and its officials. The most radical of these movements were a particular sect of Anabaptists. Anabaptists […]

“When a mother plays with her child there is an acute awareness of the child. But even when the mother works at a job or is distracted by some other activity, there is a natural, latent awareness of her child’s existence.

“Guess what?” Benzion exclaimed when he returned home. “I just won an identical Mishnah Berurah in the avos u’banim raffle.”

While it’s clear to you and to me that a 14,000-pound creature can easily break away from the light ropes holding it, the reality is that it cannot.

An Outcast
‘He Shall Dwell Outside His Tent’
(Moed Katan 7b)

Question: The Gemara in Berachot states that the sages authored our prayers. Does that mean we didn’t pray beforehand?

Menachem
Via Email

Based on the opinion of the Ramban, the Territorial School believes that leaving any territory of the Land of Israel in the possession of non-Jews is a violation of a biblical mandate.

“But they told me to come in today,” she said. They gave me this date months ago. It’s not my fault if it’s the wrong day.”

Tosafos there takes issue with Rashi’s view that the letters that are formed in the knots of the tefillin are considered part of the name of Hashem.

Blind obedience is not a virtue in Judaism. God wants us to understand the laws He has commanded us

What does Hashem want of us? That we should protect each other and the awesome heritage He gave us.

More Articles from Shaya Winiarz
Winiarz-072514

The Talmud teaches that the Beis HaMikdash was destroyed because of baseless hatred.

Winiarz-062014

When it comes to passing on Jewishness we must follow the mother – for it is she who ensures it.

One who loves can buy a factory-made knick-knack for his partner, but a personal hand-made gift is infinitely more precious.

How can the Torah command you to love somebody?

Marror is the reliving of the bitter enslavement and matzah is the under-eighteen-minutes redemption.

What is the relationship between Purim and Pisces? In what way is Purim related to fish?

Granted, Hashem miraculously gave Betzalel unimaginable wisdom, but shouldn’t life-experience count for something?

Food can be eaten to fill your stomach. But food can also be eaten with the intent to recognize Creation and acknowledge the Creator. A bracha is not just a thank you.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/torah/fruits-buckets-and-holiness/2014/01/15/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: