Tu B'Shevat

The 15th of Shevat, Tu B'Shevat, is commonly known as the birthday of the trees and will be upon us on January 31. In Devarim (20:19) the Torah compares a human being to a "tree of the field." The commentaries inquire as to how a person is similar to an immobile, emotionless plant. The Maharal of Prague explains that just as trees must grow branches, flowers, and fruit to fulfill their purpose, so too, a man is put on earth to be spiritually productive and labor to produce moral, intellectual, and spiritual truth. The Rabbis refer to the reward for good deeds as "fruit" for they are the true product of human growth. This is what the Mishna in Pirkei Avos (3:22) refers to when it compares a person to a tree by saying that one whose good deeds exceed his wisdom is likened to a tree with few branches but many powerful roots that will be able to withstand a strong storm. One whose wisdom exceeds his good deeds is likened to a tree with many branches but weak roots that is due to fall in a storm. We should all merit that our good deeds and those of our children should be our "fruit" that we can enjoy in this world and the next.

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