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Čtvrtek Duben 26 01:10:57 CEST 2012
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BLESSINGS AND CUSTOMS
Tu Bishvat is famous on the Jewish calendar as the "New Year for Trees." On this day it is customary to eat fruit which is grown in Israel. Some plant new trees on this day. Some even have the custom of reciting a kabbalistic Tu Bishvat seder, modeled roughly after the more famous Pesach seder.
The proper blessing before eating any fruit is:
"Baruch ata Ado-nay Elo-heinu Melech ha-olam, borei pree ha-aitz."
"Blessed are You, Our Lord and King of the Universe, Who creates the fruit of the tree."
On Tu Bishvat, it is also the custom to eat a "new fruit" (one that you've not eaten in the past 12 months), so that the "Shehecheyanu" blessing can be recited:
"Baruch ata Ado-nay Elo-heinu Melech ha-olam, She-heche-yanu, vi-kee-yemanu, vi-heeg-ianu, laz-man ha-zeh."
"Blessed are You, Our Lord and King of the Universe, Who has kept us alive, sustained us, and brought us to this special occasion."
* * *
LOVE OF THE LAND
Tu Bishvat bespeaks the praise of the Land of Israel - for on this day the strength of the soil of Israel is renewed and it begins to yield its produce and demonstrate its inherent goodness. And it is with reference to the fruits of the trees and the produce of the soil that the Torah praises the Land of Israel, as the verse states: "A land of wheat and barley, of vines, figs, and pomegranates, a land of olives and honey" (Deut. 8:8).
The verse speaks of two types of grain and five types of fruit when describing the richness of Israel. The honey that the verse mentions refers to honey derived from dates. Thus, the day on which the soil of Israel receives renewed strength to give forth its bounty is a day of rejoicing for the people of Israel, who till the land, who love it and who yearn for it.
Inasmuch as Tu Bishvat recalls for us the praise of the Land of Israel, it is therefore fitting that we recall, on this day, some of the words of our Sages who greatly praised the Land and extolled its excellence.
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LAND OF ISRAEL IS MOST PRAISEWORTHY
This is the ways of God: whoever is more beloved takes precedence. Because the Torah was most beloved, it was created before anything else. Because the Land of Israel is the most beloved, it was created before any other. As regards other lands, each has something which the other lacks. But the Land of Israel lacks nothing, as the verse states: "A land within which you shall eat bread without scarcity, you shall not lack anything in it" (Deut. 8:9).
(Midrash Sifri - Ekev)
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DESOLATION WHICH CONTAINS BLESSING
The verse (Leviticus 26:32) states: "And I shall make the land desolate." This is in fact a positive attribute, whose purpose is to prevent the Jewish people from saying: "We have been exiled from our land and our enemies will come and find satisfaction there." As the verse (ibid.) states: "And your enemies who dwell in it will find it desolate" - even the enemies who come after [Israel had been exiled] will find no satisfaction there.
(Midrash Sifri - Bechukosai)
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FRUITFUL LAND IS HARBINGER OF REDEMPTION
Rabbi Abba taught: There is no more revealed redemption - no greater indication of the impending redemption - than that which the verse (Ezekiel 36:8) states: "And you, mountains of Israel, you shall give forth your branches and you shall bear your fruit for my people Israel, for they shall soon come."
Rashi explains: When the Land of Israel will give fruit bountifully, this is an indication of the impending redemption, and there is no greater indication than this.
(Talmud - Sanhedrin 98a)
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WITH MILK AND HONEY
Rami Bar Yechezkel once came to Bnei Brak and saw goats grazing under a fig tree. Honey was dripping from the figs and milk from the goats - and they became intermingled. He said: "Behold, a land flowing with milk and honey!"
(Talmud - Ketubot 111b)
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SWEET, SWEET FRUIT
Rabbi Shimon ben Chalafta said: It once happened that R. Yehudah told his son in Sachin, "Go and bring us a dried fig from the barrel."
He went and when he put his hand in, he found that it was full of honey. "Father," he said, "[the barrel] contains honey [and not figs]!"
His father replied: "Put your hand back in and you will find the figs."
(Jerusalem Talmud - Pe'ah 7)
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May we all have a meaningful and sweet New Year for the Trees!
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