On Tuesday evening, January 30, Lander College for Men/Beis Medrash L’Talmud and Chazaq sponsored a community shiur at Lander. Rabbi Moshe Bamberger, Mashgiach Ruchani of Beis Medrash L’Talmud introduced Rabbi Eli Mansour.
Rabbi Mansour began by speaking about mitzvos involving trees. The laws of maaser and t’rumah depend on the year of the trees. In the Gemara, Tu BiSh’vat is referred to as a minor holiday. There is no Tachanun recited and no fasting is permitted on this day. M’kubalim have stated that Tu BiSh’vat is a propitious time to daven for zivugim. He suggested that the possible reason for this is that a marriage, like a tree, is for the purpose of being fruitful. He also noted that on Tu BiSh’vat, we pray that Hashem will grant us a good esrog for the coming Sukkos. Tu BiSh’vat is also a time to renew our commitment to making brachos.
Rabbi Mansour then shared that each holiday has its own avodah. On Sukkos, the avodah is to work on our attitude – to be joyful. On Pesach, our avodah is to free ourselves from negative things. On Shavuos, our avodah is to work on our commitment to Torah study. So, what is the avodah of Tu BiSh’vat?
Rabbi Mansour explained that the yud-kei-vav-kei name of Hashem is spelled one way and pronounced a different way. This name always represents things outside of nature. The name of Adnus represents judgment and strictness. There is a natural, predictable order to the world, which is being guided by Hashem. The root letters of the Hebrew word for “world,” olam, is ayin-lamed-mem, which means concealed. When we shine the G-d of Adnus, it shows that G-d is managing the judgments of nature. Revelation of G-d is mercy; concealment of G-d is judgment. The purpose of our service is to look at nature and realize that Hashem is hiding behind it. Teva (nature) and Elokim (G-d) have the same g’matria. G-d created nature with predictability. Predictability causes us sometimes not to see G-d. However, actually, when there is predictability, this is the biggest proof that there is a World Manager.
He then described some of the miracles in nature. For example, the way rain comes down in drops, which prevents an unlimited flow and flood, is a miracle. Rain coming down in drops that don’t touch each other could not happen by itself. He pointed out that we recite brachos on a tree when it starts budding in Nisan, even before it starts bearing fruit. Trees allow us to breathe through photosynthesis. In a sense, every tree is a natural oxygen tank.
Rabbi Mansour concluded by saying that when we recognize G-d in nature, this sweetens judgments.
By Susie Garber