Wednesday nights - Rav Benzion's Tanya shiur..........Please continue to daven for the good health of the Rebbe (Yechiel Michel ben Devorah Leah) and Rebbetzin (Feiga bas Sarah).

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tu B'shvat: We Are Judged for Creativity

The fifteenth day of Shevat (colloquially known as Tu B'shvat) has very significant halachic ramifications regarding maaaser, but today the Rebbe said that we should also think about how the New Year of the Trees relates to each individual and his avodah.

The commandment to "be fruitful and to multiply" is regarded as the first mitzvah in the Torah. According to the Zohar Hakadosh, this obligation is not only in terms of physical offspring, but we are called to be creative in the spiritual realm as well. We all have a responsibility to produce fruit from our G-d-given gifts, to add and help shape the world, leaving it a richer place.

The most conspicuous time to revisit how we are doing with this charge is during the month of Elul. We look back at the year and we greet the coming year with new resolutions and regenerated commitment.

Before we move into the spring months and into the next chapter of the year, the Rebbe proposed that there is an invitation on the part of the Master of the World that we should pause and ask ourselves if the ways we chose to be creative is everything that we can do. Are we, in fact, adding to the world? Is the fruit that we are growing the best expression of what we are capable of?

The pasuk says (Devarim 20:19), "ki adam eitz hasadeh" - A person is like a tree of the field. We are supposed to be fruit-bearing, and we need to contemplate if the fruit that we are producing is everything we wanted it to be. Assuming that we are already being creative, what are we doing to renew or improve our creativity?

Tu B'shvat represents a time when we are supposed to make another beginning, albeit one that is based on the plans we crafted for Rosh Hashana. Now is the time to tweak those commitments to better reflect what we have done since then. If the original plans were not viable to begin with, or if we did not bring the requisite fortitude to the table in Elul and Tishrei, it may be we need look at something different entirely. Either way, we are looking at our progress in relation to our original resolutions of Rosh Hashana. Have we made good on our promises to bring wholesome and invigorating spiritual fruit into the world?

See last year's post from Tu B'shvat (in Hebrew) where the Rebbe explains that this is what Chazal mean, "On the 15th of Shevat, we are judged regarding the fruits." While it literally is referring to the physical produce of trees, in light of the above, we see how we are being judged on the fruits of the commitments we planted at the beginning of the year.

A freilichen Tu B'shvat and a git gebencht yahr!

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