The Tu B’shevat seder has gained popularity in recent years. How did a day that once marked the time when one began tithing from fruit trees evolve into the mystical experience that the seder represents. Through midrashim on the sheva minim, the seven species, and the mystical understanding of this festival, we will understand why it is that: a person is either like or unlike a tree of the field.
Tu B’Shevat: Lesson 1
MORE THAN TAX DAY…ACCORDING TO RAV TZADOK HOKOHEN: Rav Tzadok has primodial designs on Tu B’Shevat. The Plagues began in Shevat, and some say it was the plague of locusts that began. Whether you say Adam ate grapes, figs or wheat, the eating of plants is Shevat related. In Pri Tzadik he takes a wild ride with dazzling and dizzying associations that come at rapid fire. Let’s try and understand it together tonight.
Tu B’Shevat: Lesson 2
RAV TZADOK WONDERS WHY TU B’SHEVAT IS THE NEW YEAR OF…: …the Tree. He also wonders what the connection is between נטיע (Rosh Hashanah for planting which is the first of Tishrei), and Rosh Hashanah לאילן which is on Tu B’Shevat. The associations flourish and are overwhelming. Come plumb the mind of Rav Tzadok tonight.
Tu B’Shevat: Lesson 3
Continuing on where we left off with the Pri Zadik as we explore how Moshe is connected only to the written Torah while Rabbi Akiva is the inspiration for the oral Torah, and how that relationship began with the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil…More of these connections come from Rav Tzadok. We will be using the same handout as last time.
Tu B’Shevat: Lesson 4
Hillel and Shammai are referred to as the ancestors of the world which the Zohar interprets as Hillel representing Hesed (compassion) and Shammai Gevurah (judgment). What does that have to do with Tu B’Shevat? EVERYTHING!!! According to Rav Zadok. See you Wendesday night for another wild ride! We’re still using the same handout from two weeks ago!
Tu B’Shevat: Lesson 5
EATING A VARIETY OF FRUITS ON TU B’SHEVAT? WHAT SENSE DOES THAT MAKE?: First off, Shevat is the month fruits begin to emerge, but have yet to be edible. By default, we will be eating last year’s fruit? Second, what sense does it make to eat fruits that don’t come from Israel, especially since there is no reason to tithe them? The custom has no relationship to the original purpose of the date which was to mark when the new tithes would begin…what’s going on here? Rav Tzadok plumbs this conundrum by going back to basics. Primordial trees and the waters that nurtures them. Fruit eating will never be the same… This is the Zadokian finale of Tu B’Shevat…not to be missed!
Tu B’Shevat: Lesson 6
TONIGHT WE FINISH WITH THE GRAND FINALE…HONEST: Rav Tzadok finally let’s us in on the secret of what is behind the dispute of Beitei Hillel and Shammai. Why Beit Shammai prefers the new moon and why Beit Hillel’s moon is full. Bring out the trumpets and prepare for to dazzle your friends nest Tu B’Shevat!
Tu B’Shevat: Lesson 7
B’NE YISASSCHER CONNECTS TU B’AV AND TU B’SHEVAT…: One of the Kavanot connected to Tu B’Shevat is to pray for a beautiful Etrog since this is the time when those tress begin to bud and bloom. After learning Rav Tzadok in depth we see echoes of his teaching in the B’nai Yisaschar, and we are treated to some new connections. In many ways, Rav Tzadok presented a theology of consumption, while the B’nai Yisaschar connects Tu B’shevat with other days that seem unremarkable as defined, but have hidden resonance. This is rabbinic innovation at its most serious, and the impact of it has been normalized in Jewish practice. Tonight we get some more insight into the power of chidush–of innovation as it is transformed from an idea into a practice.
Tu B’Shevat: Lesson 8
NO TACHANUN ON TU B’SHEVAT? A HALACHIC CURIOUSITY…: …but a spiritual imperative! The author of the Shem M’Shmuel explains that even though Tu B’Shevat marks a time of no apparent spiritual significance, there is more to it than meets the eye. He argues the case for this acknowledgement of the other worldly nature of a day that merely marks a time in nature. Understanding the Hasidic perspective on Tu B’Shevat gives insight into the dramatically different orientation toward this holiday in particular and Mitzvot in general. It’s a great way to finish the semester. The material is already included in last week’s packet. If time permits, we will learn a piece on Parshat Hachodesh as well.