Tu B’Shvat Chag Lilanot

The 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shvat, a holiday for the trees

The month of Shvat has the constellation Aquarius associated with it, and in kabbalistic astrology implies an outpouring of wisdom to those who want it, at this time. Water is often a symbol of wisdom in the ancient commentaries. Just like we need water on a daily basis, we need wisdom on a daily basis. Wisdom is a basic necessity, but unlike water, most people don’t realize how crucial it is.

It’s a curious fact that the most important things people tend to try and wing it. We all want a happy marriage, wonderful relationships with our parents, siblings, and kids. A friend recently related to me how a disagreement with his manager ended up spiraling out of control until the manager not only fired him but asked him not to set foot in the office. That’s pretty extreme. There must have been a very bad dynamic for it to end up like that. It seems they are both decent people who ended up in a tit for tat. Of course hindsight’s 20/20 but I wonder what would have happened if after the first altercation he had gone to a few people for advice.

We all get into situations in which we aren’t being successful, and the right advice from an objective person can often change things for the better. But are we humble enough to ask advice? At least reading a book on the subject can be of help. Being a human being is fraught with challenges. For every major challenge we need to read at least ten books on the subject. For an accounting degree you need to read a lot. For happiness, you need to read even more. Many more people can successfully complete an accounting course than can achieve a pleasurable amount of happiness. And humility, not meekness, is one of the character treats that lead people to seek advice or answers to their dilemmas.

This, the sages say, is one of the most important traits for acquiring wisdom. Just like water flows downward to the lowest spot it can find, so too the spiritual rules of the universe that the Almighty designed allow wisdom to flow to a humble person, provided the humble person appreciates, desires, and seeks wisdom.

Similarly, fruits are a symbol of God’s love since they are delicious and sort of a natural dessert. Tu Bshvat is when the sap starts to rise in the trees which will eventually cause the fruits to grow. It is a day of “judgement” on the trees, i.e. on us to see if we appreciate God’s blessings for humanity, and if we are using them in a way that is beneficial for us.

A divine flow of wisdom is waiting for us. And a spiritual source of blessing hangs in the balance. They are both two sides of the same coin.

Monday night, the 21st of January is when Tu B’Shvat falls out this year. Some people have the custom of eating fruits, especially the ones associated with Israel from the Torah, i.e. wheat, barley, grapes (wine), figs, pomegranates, olive (oil), and dates. We make blessings, show our appreciation to God, and remind ourselves that He loves us.

Eat, drink, and be mystical.

Happy Tu B’Shvat!

Max Weiman
Kabbalah Made Easy, Inc.