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!