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Tu B'Shevat: An Opportunity To Tase Gan Eden

12/29/2012 07:42:13 PM


As I was shopping in a grocery store, a man approached me.  Noticing my kippah, he queried: "May I ask you a question about Judaism?"  Since it was still Hanukkah, I thought he would be inquiring about the holiday's observance.  Instead, he asked "Where in Fort Wayne can I obtain some really good lox?  You know, like they have in New York!"  (By the way, if you know a good answer, let me know!)

Although somewhat surprised by this, I recognized how much we, as Jews, are connected to "Jewish foods" and "Jewish foods for the holidays."  Let's talk about a holiday centering on food!  Not just any food, but fruits!

Adam and Eve were given two commandments.  One was to eat from all the trees of the garden. Almost all fruits that is.  They were also commanded not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  Unfortunately, they partook of the forbidden fruit and received the knowledge, of the good and evil inclinations.  To this day, we struggle with our decisions, choosing either the good or the evil.  When you think of it, this all occurred because of not eating properly!

The Chassidic master, Rabbi Tzadok HaKohen taught that on Tu B'Shevat we are attempting to rectify this wrong.  At our Tu B'Shevat table we are eating fruits, just like Adam and Even would have done.  It is like returning to the Garden of Eden!We are recreating the mitzvah, the command, by G-d to eat of the fruits of the trees.

Oh, you may counter, we could also be eating a fruit from the forbidden Tree of Knowledge?  After all, there are so many speculations about which fruit it was.  Was it the fruit of the ertrog tree, or of the fig tree, or the grape vine...and the list goes on.

Rav Tzadok teaches that the Tree of Knowledge was really of all of the seven species and none of them at the same time.  The Tree of Knowledge was not a species of fruit, but was a way of eating!  What was and what is this way?  It is when we are so involved in taking pleasure, while forgetting G-d.  Hashem gives us these gifts, and we don't remember that G-d is the One who bestows these on us!  It is no wonder that the Talmud teaches that one who eats and does not first say a blessing, is as if he or she is a thief!  (After all, by behaving this way, we are not appreciative or even giving thought to the Creator, who gave us food as a gift.)

What are we accomplishing at our Tu B'Shevat Seder?  We are fine tuning our consciousness to eat, with thankfulness to our Creator, the Gift Giver.  When we do this, we are making a Tikun, a correction, a healing.  We are learning how to enjoy food, while we are enjoying being close to G-d.

Is this a small matter?  Not at all.  We are often reminded that much disease may stem from what and how we eat.  Gulping our food, piling our plates with more food than it is good for us to eat are examples of poor eating habits.  Not stopping mindfully to say a blessing over food, is an example of an impoverished spirituality.  Each moment we eat, each meal of which we partake, can be a moment we link with Gan Eden.  It can be the moment when we link with Hashem.  So, please join us for our Tu B'Shevat Seder, and let us eat mindfully, spiritually, and with G-d at our table.  May this happen not only on Tu B'Shevat, but all year long!

Fri, December 3 2021 29 Kislev 5782