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The Greatness of the Month of Shevat


 

We spoke before about how the festivals illuminate the entire month. Shevat is no different and in the 15th day we celebrate the new year of Trees, Tu B’Shvat. While most people are unaware of its deeper significance it’s become a custom to delight in the fruits of the trees both at dinner and at lunch in order to increase the number of blessings we make.

Why is this so?

In the writings of the Arizal, we find that during Tu B’Shvat we can rectify the original sin of Adam HaRishon (the first man) of eating the forbidden fruit of knowledge of good and evil… by eating fruits! This is remarkable, if we consider that, at the beginning of the Idra Zutra, when Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai is in his death bed, he says Adam HaRishon came to him and asked to conceal his real sin. It was because Adam was made directly by Hashem that his real

As always, there’s alot to cover about the Kabbalistic significance of this day so let’s get started!

 

The rescued Month

Certain months have more light than others. Sometimes it’s simply a different type of illumination. We usually think of Av, Tevet and Tammuz as being more problematic because we have days of mourning. In this sense, many Kabbalists teach that they were “taken” by the forces of evil which govern it.

In Tevet, the month we are about to leave, we rectify the Sephira of Netzach (victory, eternity) of the masculine aspect of the spiritual worlds, while in Shevat, we rectify Hod (splendor, brilliance). The first letters of the words Shevat, Tevet, Netzachand Hod form the name of the Accusing angel, “Sa-tan” (השטן), which signifies that he tried to grab hold of us even during these 2 months, just like Av and Tammuz.

Many of our Rabbis struggle to explain why Yaakov Avinuwent a long way back the River Yabok for 2 small bottles (פחים קטנים). Some, like Rashi and Rebbe Nachman, explain that it’s because they know all their possessions come from Heaven and are imbued with holiness and divine sparks that are related to them. Therefore our sages teach “the money of the righteous are more precious than their own lives”, and they dare not ever disdain it.

But many Kabbalists have a different take: if we take the word פחים קטנים, we see that it’s the exact numerical value as the accuser, שטן! Yaakov Avinu wrestled with the guardian angel of Esav, the very accusing angel who was subdued by him. Before releasing him, Yaakov said “I shall not leave you until you bless me”. This last part “until you bless me” (אם ברכתני) has the numerical value of these two months Tevet and Shevat (טבת שבת) with one more for the general idea. Not only that, but the name Yaakov (יעקב) and the one he got after his encounter Israel ישראל)) are exactly the numerical value of Tevet and Shevat!

To sum everything up, the two small flasks represented the months of Tevet and Shevat, which Yaakov got from the Sa-tan, after wrestling with him. And we have a principle that the more difficult the challenge, the greater the reward. Therefore, these two months have a special illumination for being rescued from the side of evil.

 

Renewal and bounty

Just like the trees begin to regain their vitality (as we are leaving winter), so too we begin experience a profound illumination for renewal during Shevat. This is, after all, when many men are in the middle of the incredibly deep and powerful rectification of Shovavim (lit. mischievous, and an acronym for the Parashiot of Shemot, Vayeirah, Bo, Beshalach, Yitro, Mishpatim). This period of time allows men (and sometimes women) to rectify the most severe sins of immorality.

Rabbi Shalom Sharabi (the “Rashas’h” for short), elaborates greatly on the Kabbalah of the Arizal. He teaches in his magnum opus Nahar Shalom that each and every person has his own spiritual system comprised of all the higher worlds related to him. Not only that, but each and every mode of services has its own unique system of higher worlds.

When a person does a Mitzvah, like praying or giving Tzedaka, he rectifies the entire system from the uppermost level of Adam Kadmon down to the lowest world of Assiyah assigned to him, which came into being at that particular day and hour! This is an incredibly great idea and, if you ponder it, you will never feel unimportant again!

This is one of the reasons why we want to increase the number of blessings on Tu B’Shvat. Each of us is unique and can bring our own light to the world. Not only that, but the Arizal teaches that each fruit has its own illumination and power that we can acquire. We want this month to be infused with all the blessings we can take

The main lesson of Tu B’Shvat is to realize we have tremendous power in our hands. Hashem created a marvelous spiritual system for each and every one of us! It’s up to us to make the most out of this month. Think about it and you won’t ever feel jealous about anyone ever again.


This article was written in the zechut of all Emuna Builder Partners. May they have eternal success in all their endeavors with complete emuna.


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