82 posts categorized "Land of Israel"

Tu B'Shvat: Sunday Night & Monday, Jan. 24-25, 2016

Almond flowers
Above image: Almond blossoms in the Land of Israel - the sign that Tu B'Shvat is arriving.

Tu B'Shvat this year is Jan. 24-25, Sunday night and Monday. This is the New Year of the Trees. Many ask why Jews need a New Year for trees? Here are a few answers:

Few nations are so environmentally aware as the Jewish People; Tu B'Shvat, for example, is a day when we focus on beautifying the earth we live on. Especially here in Israel, Tu B'Shvat is a day of planting trees all across the countryside. Consider planting a tree (or two, or three, or more) in your backyard. What's more, many people plant a fruit tree every time they are blessed with a new child, for trees in Jewish tradition are symbolic of fertility, children and abundance. that's truly a beautiful custom. See more in Save the Trees, one of our feature articles in this week's Tu B'Shvat issue of Breslev Israel magazine.

It's no secret that that the nations of the world protest our right to the Land of Israel. But what does give us the right to every bit of our holy land? Tu B'Shvat is the answer, as we explain in Planting and Posterity. By the way, there's a big connection between Tu B'Shvat and the Shovevim weeks.

One of the first things a person is supposed to do when he comes to the Land of Israel is to plant fruit trees. In this manner, the settlers of the Land of Israel are truly partners with the Almighty in creation. How? The Torah calls the Holy Land "a land of milk and honey" more than a dozen times. Rashi explains that the honey that Torah refers to is the honey that flows forth from the luscious dates and figs, two of the seven special species of the Land of Israel that the Torah praises. Therefore, those who plant date palms and fig trees help the Land of Israel manifest its potential from creation, for they are the fortunate emissaries who enhance the flow of honey in the Holy Land. Read all about in in Trees, Israel and Geula.

Here's a big treat for Tu B'Shvat: Did you know that Israel's trees also give milk as well as honey? Try this delicious recipe, which is super healthy for children, athletes, expecting and nursing mothers or virtually everyone, which you'll find in Tree Milk and Honey.

This week's Torah portion is Yitro, where we'll read about the Ten Commandments. From all the myriad of wonders, miracles and acts of loving-kindness that Hashem does for us, the Torah juxtaposes “I am Hashem your God” with the exodus from “the land of Egypt and the house of bondage.” “I am Hashem your God” is the first of the Ten Commandments, the commandment of emuna - to believe in Hashem, the One true God. Hashem Himself is telling us that emuna is the precursor and prerequisite of exodus and geula, as we'll learn in Emuna and Geula.

Also featured this week:

Rav Shalom Arush: Be Positive

Dr. Zev Ballen: Effective Soul-Healing

Racheli Reckles: Private Eyes

David Perlow: Saving a Life

Jenn Safra: The Mysterious Honk

Dovber Halevi: The Greatest Growth Coach

Happy Tu B'Shvat and blessings for a wonderful new week!


A Gift for the Rebbe

I have a custom that I received from an old tzaddik: he told me that when you take your 3-year old to cheder (Orthodox Jewish elementary school for boys) on the first day, give the cheder rebbe (boys' elementary school teacher) a monetary gift (like a $50 bill) and ask him to pay special attention to your son. The old tzaddik told me that the gift to the cheder rebbe invokes Divine assistance for your son's Torah learning and it makes the rebbe happy as well, for cheder rebbes never earn the money they really deserve. So, whenever I am honored with the mitzvah of being sandek at a brit, I take responsibility for the child's initial success in Torah and I give the father of the baby an envelope with money inside and tell him to pass it on to the child's rebbe when the child goes to cheder for the first time at age 3.

With the above in mind, several years ago, I had the privilege of being sandek at the brit of David Mark's son in Maale Chever south of Hevron. David wrote me this spine-chilling email earlier this month:Yaakov Litman hyd

...our son who you were sandek for, has grown up and is now in first grade.  It was his rebbe that was killed a few weeks ago along with his son.  It was hard for us as parents to go through that with him, but I saw that children really handle these things better than we do. His rebbe was an amazing person and it was to him in the beginning of the year that we gave the gift you had given us as his sandek that you told me to give to his future cheder rabbi.  Rav Yaakov Litman was a tremendous Tzaddik. I wrote a eulogy for him here.

Rabbi Yaakov Litman Hy"d (photo, above right), a beautiful human and a most wonderful cheder rebbe (elementary school teacher) was brutally murdered by Arab terrorists 6 weeks ago. 


Advice for a Duckling

Wolves and Duckling
All we want is to live a quiet life of Torah and emuna in the holy Land of Israel. Our enemies from all sides want to swallow us alive. Yet, with emuna, we take everything in our stride with a big smile on our face too. Why? Our enemies will devour one another as they've already started to do...

This all reminds me of a pack of hungry wolves who saw a little duckling. Each claimed the poor little thing for their supper, so they began to fight each other in a ferocious melee of blood and fangs. Each clamping on to the other's jugular, until they all dropped dead in a puddle of their own blood. When everything quieted down, the duckling crawled out from his hiding place under the table, and resumed his happy life as normal.

Advice to all ducklings: hide under Hashem's wing; it worked for King David (see Psalm 17:8) and it'll work for us. 


Moshiach and Mount Zion

Har Tzion Mezuza
And saviors will ascend Mount Zion to judge the Mountain of Esau, and the kingdom will be Hashem's
(Ovadiah 1:21).

Our sages elaborate on the above prophecy and say that Moshiach and his colleagues will exact retribution from the descendants of Esau, Zion's arch-enemy. Then, everyone will acknowledge Hashem.

Before this happens, Moshiach will enter Mount Zion. With this in mind, I want you to keep a very special image in front of your eyes - the mezuzah on the Zion Gate (image, above), at the entrance to Mount Zion. I was there yesterday, when I visited King David's holy gravesite atop Mount Zion. This is the mezuzah that Moshiach, King David's descendant, will place his hand on and kiss when he comes to fulfill the above prophecy. Some people say that they can see an image of Moshiach wearing tefillin on this mezuzah - can you?

May we all soon greet our holy Moshiach, may he come soon, amen!