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Monday, January 21, 2019

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.

Learn About Tu BiShevat

Daily Thought

Truth is simple: it has no clothes, no neat little box to contain it.

But we cannot grasp that which has no box. We cannot perceive Truth without clothing.

So Truth dresses up for us, in a story, in sage advice, in a blueprint of the cosmos—in clothes woven from the fabric of Truth itself.

And then, when we have finally come to a firm grasp of that teaching, Truth switches clothes. It tells us another story—entirely at odds with the first. It tells us new advice—to go in a different direction. It provides another model of how things are—in which each thing has changed its place.

The fool is confused. He exclaims, “Truth has lied!”

The wise person listens, he is patient, and through his labor he hears a third voice, one that brings harmony to these opposites he has learned.

Until he discovers that Truth is a simple, pure light no box can contain. And so, it belongs in all places, at all times.

Sefer Hasichot 5749, vol. 2, pp. 509–511; Likkutei Sichot, vol. 22, p. 10.