In the same way, “All of a person’s income is fixed [each year] from Rosh Hashanah until Yom Kippur…” (Beitzah 16a and Bava Basra 10a). We will receive what He decrees and no more.
Every night we say, “Master of the universe, I hereby forgive anyone who angered or antagonized me or who sinned against me.” These amazing words seem to mean that we have to be so secure in our relationship with Hashem, so happy with our lot, that even injuries inflicted on us do not throw off our equilibrium. We have to try to understand that even these painful moments are gifts from Hashem with a beneficial purpose.
My chavrusa, Rabbi Moshe Grossman, told me a true story he had read in the writings of Rabbi Elimelech Biderman about a young man who was with a childless friend at a Purim mesiba. They had a lively altercation that ended with the married man giving the younger man a slap across the face. The younger man then said, “In the merit of the public embarrassment you have caused me, I give you the blessing that you should have a baby boy.” The man’s son was born nine months later.
I have heard that great men who were publicly insulted actually celebrated a seudas hoda’ah, a meal of thanksgiving, to express the simcha that they had mastered their own tendency to respond to insults with bigger insults.
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What does all this have to do with Tu B’Shevat?
Tu B’Shevat is the day the sap starts flowing in the trees after the long, cold winter. (See The Book of Our Heritage by Eliyahu Kitov). This is the general pattern of nature; like t’chias hamaisim, the resurrection of the dead.
In fact, all the Yomim Tovim that fall on the fifteenth of the month represent instances of t’chias hamaisim. This is a foundation of Torah life: we are not bound by the limitations of physical existence. We are not afraid of death, because life with Hashem is eternal.
On Tu B’Shevat the trees awaken. Unseen by human eyes, the sap flows upward inside the tree. How can the sap, the lifeblood of the tree, flow upward? In nature, everything flows downward. But when Hashem saves us through t’chias hamaisim, it is an act that defies the physical world, an act that demonstrates He is in complete control of the entire universe.
And so each year on the Fifteenth of Shevat, the sap starts flowing upward through the tree and, although the world at large has no clue, those who live by Torah know Hashem is saving us once again and introducing eternal life into this world. This is what happens on Tu B’Shevat.
The first berachah in Shemoneh Esrei, while it is called “Avos,” describes, insofar as it’s possible, Hashem. The second berachah is called t’chias hamaisim, the resurrection of the dead. T’chias hamaisim is so important that it comes second in Shemoneh Esrei. What does Hashem do in this world? He gives us eternal life. He creates nature and then overcomes it for those who are close to Him.
Our basic view of the world is that we should not be afraid of anything, because even death is overwhelmed by Hashem’s willingness to provide eternal life to those who dwell with Him. Resurrection is arguably the basic fact of life. This is how we begin our day: “Blessed are You, Hashem, Who restores souls to dead bodies.”
Tu B’Shevat is about how dead trees come to life, which means that Tu B’Shevat is about t’chias hamaisim. We can look in nature and see what Hashem is planning for us.