Latest update: January 17th, 2014
Perhaps now we can understand why we eat many different types of fruit on Tu B’Shevat. If the only growth in eating fruit is in the making of the bracha, it would suffice to eat only one fruit. Why the need to sample a variety? By now, the answer should be clear. Exploring a great variety of Hashem’s creations multiplies our recognition of His handiwork exponentially. Hashem not only created the apple and the orange, He also made the grapefruit and kiwi. He made grapes, olives, pomegranates, peaches, walnuts, hazelnuts, coconuts, avocados, papayas, almonds, dates, figs, apricots, lemons, mangos, pears, cherries, and a few hundred other species of fruit. And not one fruit has the same taste as the other! They are all so different; it would almost be logical to make a different bracha on each one, just as we make a different bracha on fruit than on vegetables. Yet, it is the same Melech Ha’olam who created each one of these completely different fruits. The Chovos Halevovos (Gate of Reflection, Chapter 1) says “If something always does one thing, that indicates that it is forced by its nature to do only that. Fire can only burn; water can only cool. But Hashem is omnipotent and is not forced by any nature. Therefore one can see great variety in the creation….” Tu B’Shevat is the day for recognizing that variety. By sampling a great variety of creations we naturally come to see their Creator.
Thus armed, I believe we can understand how D’li came to be the mazal of Shevat. As mentioned, a bucket has no intrinsic value. Its only value is as a tool. Similarly, fruits serve no inherent function. Hashem could’ve made us without the need for food. However, fruits are very valuable and precious because they can be used as a tool to help us focus on the Creator. Fruits are the vessels (or buckets, if you will) made to contain holiness. When we make a bracha and eat each one of them, we acknowledge Hashem as the Master of the world. This is also why D’li is the mazal of the Jewish People. Judaism is not about rituals. Nor is it about the synagogue. Judaism is about seeing Hashem in every aspect of our lives and acknowledging Him there. We take acts as mundane as eating and transform them into tools, into buckets overflowing with holiness. This is the growth of Shevat. If we can grow in this area, it will be an accomplishing month.
Have a meaningful Tu B’Shevat.
About the Author: Shaya Winiarz is a student of the Rabbinical Seminary of America (a.k.a Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim). He is also a columnist, freelance writer, and public speaker. He can be reached for questions, speaking engagements, or freelance writing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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