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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Tu B’Shvat and Shecheyanu on new fruits

Some years ago, I was invited to a Tu B’Shvat Seder/Friday Night Seudah / Potluck dinner in the Old City of Jerusalem. Although my recollections of that evening are somewhat fuzzy, I do recall that the company was great, there were many excellent wines (hence the fuzziness) and an astonishing variety of mouth watering fruits.

Although the Tu B’Shvat Seder has recently gained popularity, especially among the Jewish vegetarian groups, it apparently was first conceived by the Arizal. The Chassidic Rebbes conduct a “Peiros Tish” or fruit meal on Tu B’Shvat, at which they distribute various fruits and nuts to their Chassidim.

This minhag is also cited by the Magen Avraham who writes: “The minhag of the Ashkenazim is to partake in fruits on this day.”

There is also a custom to eat the Esrog from Sukkos on Tu B’Shvat. This of course would require some advance pickling or preservation. The Bnai Yissocher writes that Tu B’Shvat is a fortuitous time to daven for a Beautiful Esrog the coming year.

Many try to find a Shecheyanu fruit for Tu B’Shvat. The origin of this custom is unknown, but some suggest that it may be based on a fascinating passage in the Jerusalem Talmud. At the very end of Kidushin, the Yerushalmi quotes

“Rebbi Chizkiya R’ Cohen in the name of Rav: One will have to answer to the Heavely Tribunal for every item he saw and did not partake of. Reb Elazer was very careful about this, and would save his pennies in order to have all the fruits that are available once a year”

The meforshim explain that he did so in order to have the opportunity to say Shecheyanu and thank Hashem for all that He created to make our lives more enjoyable.

From here we see that one should make a concerted effort to make Shecheyanu on new fruits, perhaps the custom became to do so on Tu B’shvat – the New Year for the trees.

Nowadays, when many fruits are available year round, the opportunities to say Shecheyanu become rarer. One can however make a Shecheyanu on any fruit that is seasonal in his usual supermarket, even if it could be procured in a specialty store elsewhere.

The Piskei Teshuvos writes that when one makes Shecheyanu on fruit it is a celebration of the renewal of Hashem’s creation, that Hashem has designed an astounding eco-system of sustenance which is all the more astounding in its seasonality.

Have a happy and inspiring Tu B’Shvat.


Posted on 02/08 at 04:17 AM • 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.

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