Your wedding is taking place on the auspicious day of Tu BeShevat — the fifteenth day of the Hebrew month of Shevat. In our Holy Land of Israel this is the day when the sap has risen up in the trees and causes the blossoming of the new produce. According to the Jerusalem Talmud (Rosh Hashanah 1:2) up until this point the trees were living off the waters of the previous year (which were decreed last Tishrei). Henceforth, the trees will draw their nurture from the water of the new year. These rains cause the sap to rise in the trees, and it is this that initiates the blossoming of the new fruits.

In Eretz Yisrael, where the laws of tithing produce still apply to this day, this is a very significant date. It is the point that distinguishes between the fruit of the current year and that of the previous year.

In Diaspora it is a minor Yom Tov which is marked by our not reciting the Tachnun prayer and also by eating a variety of fruits of the tree and particularly those for which the Torah praised the land of Israel (see Devarim 13:8).

The Torah states “Ki ha’adam eitz hasadeh” — “For [is] man like a tree of the field” (Ibid. 20:19). The Gemara (Taanit 7a) says that man is indeed like trees in many respects and derives a message based on this analogy. Additionally, throughout our Holy writings the Jewish people have often been compared to different trees of the field (see Midrash Rabbah Shemot 36:1).

There is, of course, a vast difference between a tree and a man; nevertheless, there are many lessons that man can derive for his development from studying the development process of the tree. Let’s take some time to analyze how exactly man is like a tree and what we can learn from the trees.

The tree is made up of three major divisions: the roots, the trunk and branches, and the fruit.

The roots are concealed, but they must extend deeply in the ground in order for the tree to receive its proper nourishment and to withstand the buffeting winds that might make it crash. The roots of Yiddishkeit are emunah — faith. “The righteous lives by his faith,” is the summation of Torah (Makkot 24a, Habakkuk 2:4). Faith is not necessarily evident, faith is not the subject for casual discussion, and it cannot be measured or evaluated by externals; but the profundity and sincerity of faith may be gauged by the intensity, the strength and resiliency of one’s religious life.

Excellent as the roots may be, they are not yet a tree. The great bulk of the tree is its trunk and branches. These are not static. The tree grows from year to year, and a tree’s age can be determined by the number of its rings. The “trunk” of the Jew’s religious life is his study of Torah and observance of mitzvot. These are not and must not be the same throughout life. One must grow in learning and in observance so that each year will add to his spiritual girth.

The tree is not perfect until it bears fruit to perpetuate itself. The term “fruit” is not limited to edibles but also includes any benefit the tree offers such as shade from the heat of the sun or protection from rain. The ideal Torah Jew cannot be selfish. His own saintliness will be insufficient if it lacks concern for others as well. The upright individual is responsible not for himself alone, but rather he is one who influences his surroundings and the entire society through his good deeds.

The “fruitful” man will have strong and nourishing roots of faith, and he will have a constantly growing and expanding “trunk” — Torah study and Torah way of life, but his main accomplishment is producing beautiful “fruits” in terms of children and good deeds, and not being concerned with only himself. He strives to insure that his contemporary society and the generations to come will reflect the ideals of Torah.

My dear Chatan and Kallah, hopefully you will be a beautiful tree in the garden of Hashem, one that will produce beautiful fruit for which all people will praise and bless you. The most beautiful blessing for a tree is the one recorded in the Gemara (Taanit 6b) “May it be the will of Hashem that all shoots planted from you shall be like you.”


Today the Jewish people celebrate Chamishah Asar Beshevat the fifteenth day of Shevat (popularly known as Tu Beshevat) which according to Beit Hillel in the Gemara (Rosh Hashanah 2a) is the New Year for the trees.

As a young couple starting out in life and having great dreams and aspirations, there is a very important lesson to be learned from the trees which I believe is of special significance to the both of you as you enter into marriage and embark on building a binyan adai ad — an enduring home in the Jewish community.

Permit me to preface this message with a short story.

When a young boy named Yanki came home from his Bar-Mitzvah celebration, the first thing he did was open the envelopes and unpack the gifts.

His grandfather’s gift came in a box. Inside on the top was an envelope with a handsome check. As he dug down deeper, he found an old-fashioned glass bottle of Coca Cola. On it was a note from his grandfather telling him that the bottle carried an important message for him to remember all the days of his life and that it would be his key to great success.

Unable to decipher the message, he waited till the morning when he went to his grandfather’s home, thanked him for the nice check, and then asked, “What was I to learn from the bottle?” The grandfather gently told Yanki, “Nowadays in most cities when you buy a bottle of soda you pay a deposit, which you receive back when you return the bottle. Etched in the glass of this old bottle that I gave you are the words, ‘no deposit no return,’ and it is a important message which you should always remember. In life, if one expects a ‘return,’ it is necessary to make a ‘deposit.’ ”

Miracles do happen, but only from time to time and only to certain people. To sit idle and wait for them to happen is improper. It is necessary to do, to put in one’s best effort, and undoubtedly Hashem will bless one with happy returns. This is true in every facet of life.

On the day of Tu BeShevat it is customary throughout the land of Israel for people and particularly young children to go out and plant trees.

For a tree to grow a seed must be planted in the ground. The tree that will eventually grow is contingent on the quality of the seed and the soil. Moreover, it must be properly tended. Afterwards, it must be watered and the sapling must be weeded and pruned. Only then will it grow to be a healthy tree and produce good fruit.

The same is true of a marriage. Marriage is the planting of a tree. What a couple puts into the marriage is what they can anticipate to get out of it, and remember: no deposit no return.

My dear Chatan and Kallah, knowing you and your family trees, I am confident that the both of you will, please G‑d, put your very best efforts into this marriage throughout all the years of your life. You can be assured that for your deposit G‑d will bestow upon you a great return materially and spiritually.