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ב"ה
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Monday, 15 Shevat, 5782

Halachic Times (Zmanim)
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15 Shevat - New Year for Trees
Jewish History

R. Nechemiah was a brilliant Torah scholar who lived in Dubrowna, a town in what is now Belarus. He was a disciple of the first three Rebbes of Chabad, R. Schneur Zalman of Liadi , R. DovBer of Lubavitch, and R. Menachem Mendel Schneersohn of Lubavitch (who was also his first cousin through marriage). He kept a scholarly correspondence with R. Menachem Mendel, some of which is preserved in his book of responsa, Divrei Nechemiah.

R. Nechemiah was born on 15 Shevat in the year 5548 from Creation (1788), and passed away on his sixty-fourth birthday in 5612 (1852).

Link: Man Alive

Laws and Customs

Today is Tu BiShevat ("the 15th of Shevat") which marks the beginning of a "New Year for Trees." This is the season in which the earliest-blooming trees in the Land of Israel emerge from their winter sleep and begin a new fruit-bearing cycle.

Legally, the "New Year for Trees" relates to the various tithes that must be separated from produce grown in the Holy Land. We mark the day by eating fruit, particularly from the "Seven Kinds" that are singled out by the Torah in its praise of the bounty of the Holy Land (wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates). On this day we remember that "Man is a tree of the field" (Deuteronomy 20:19) and reflect on the lessons we can derive from our botanical analogue.

Link:
Learn About Tu BiShevat

Tachnun is omitted from the prayer services today.

Daily Thought

Jethro was an explorer, a trekker through the stars that rule the darkness.

Jethro discovered the meaning of each deity of every pantheon of gods, the forces they controlled, the energies to be exploited by worshipping them, the place each held in the power struggle of nature and being.

Until he arrived at a place from which he could look back and say, “Their power is an illusion. They are nothing more than conduits, the agencies of a perfect, transcendent Oneness Who pervades the universe.”

Then He saw the miracles wrought for the Jewish people, wonders that engaged every force of nature in unison, that connected heaven and earth as one.

Jethro knew he had arrived at truth. With him, he brought the secret of every false power, the wisdom that emerges from darkness.

And now Torah could enter the world.

Darkness, he found, can teach us more about light than light could ever say.

Likutei Sichot vol. 11, Yitro 1. Ibid vol. 16.