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Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Message of Tu Bshvat

What follows is based on Rabbi SR Hirsch. I wrote it in my own words, and have not done him full justice.

Why do we celebrate the Rosh Hashanah of the trees in the middle of the bleak, cold, lifeless winter? The Gemara explains – Since most of the rains have already fallen. (Rosh Hashanah 14). What does that mean?

Rabbi SR Hirsch in Collected Writings explains the significance of Tu B’Shvat in the following manner:

A rational person will say the tree bears fruit when the fruit actually appears on the tree. One who thinks a bit more deeply will postulate that the fruit really begins at the original budding. There must be a physical manifestation to show the budding of the fruit.

This is true in the world of men in general. Only deeds, actions, actual physical efforts are considered noteworthy.

The Torah operates differently; the origins of the actions are paramount. Rabbi Hirsch refers to the “invisible germination of righteousness and inquity”.

He explains that the Torah focuses on protecting and building this inner, invisible foundation from where all the actions come. All the laws of Purity, Issur and Heter and so on protect this core, particularly where the spiritual intersects with the physical and and the integrity of one’s purity is at stake.

This is also exemplified in the purity that was required in the camp of the Jewish Army, the cleanliness of speech that is Halachically necessary, the preparations needed to pray and to eat, and the entire approach to Jewish Law.

What follows then, is that all the rituals and laws are done not only as a way of serving Hashem, but more importantly to strengthen and solidify man, to ensure that the origins of all his deeds are pure and whole.

This is the message of Tu B’Shvat. We do not address the outer manifestations of Spring, rather the inner beginnings. The rains have begun passing, the sap is starting to rise in the trees, the inner core is strong and healthy – unaffected by what’s going on outside. This is the message to each and every one of us.

Posted on 01/24 at 01:28 PM • Permalink
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Meet Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber

Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch HaberRabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber is sought after by all who know him for his Halachic and practical advice. His keen ability to put complicated matters into a digestible perspective coupled with his ability to get the facts, make him the perfect blogger to help us all “Do It Right”.

A native of Buffalo, NY, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber spent his childhood globetrotting with his family. His pioneering spirit first surfaced in Melbourne, Australia, where he was excited to be a member of the opening class of Mesivta Bnei Torah. From Australia the Haber family settled down in Monsey, NY. Ever the maverick, Tzvi promptly left home to study in Yeshiva Ohr Hameir in Peekskill, where he became a mainstay of the Yeshiva, and inspired his younger brothers as well as several friends from the Mesivta in Melbourne to follow him. He then joined his chaburah in Jerusalem, first at the Mir Yeshiva and then at the Bais Medrash of Rav Dovid Soloveitchik, a senior scion of the famed Brisk dynasty. As his globetrotting family returned to Jerusalem, Tzvi returned to the US, to freeze in the famed, yet comparatively chilled Beth Medrash Govoha of Lakewood.

 In 2004 he met his wife, Suzanne Schor, a native of the warmer Los Angeles climate, and the couple settled in Lakewood, where he focused his pioneering and independent strengths on the study of Halacha, or Jewish law. His innovative spirit and innate ability to help others seeking to clarify the finer points of Judaism and integrate them into their daily lives inspired his decision to commute daily from Lakewood to the Lower East Side of Manhattan in order to bask in the day to day exposure to the world renowned Posek, HaRav David Feinstein. The daily commute was more than compensated for when he received Semicha from Rav Feinstien and the Kollel L’Torah U’lhorah (a division of Mesivta Tifereth Jerusalem) in Tamuz 5768, June 2008.

In August 2009, the Habers moved west, heading toward Los Angeles where Rabbi Haber joined the LINK-LA Kollel. After being an active member of the Kollel for several years, he joined the business world, however he is still actively involved in teaching and learning in LA.

Actively involved in all aspects of TorahLab, Tzvi has taken upon himself a quasi-role as administrator of quality control and has effectively improved and upgraded many of the smaller yet vital details involved in our site. His advice is eagerly sought and gracefully given.

Rabbi Haber is now living in the La Brea section of Los Angeles with his wonderful family. He can be contacted at tzvi@torahlab.org