This week, in honor of Tu B’Shvat, we present a letter from the Rebbe on the significance of the New Year for Trees and its connection to Yud Shvat and Bosi L’gani. The letter, written originally in English, is from the archives of the Rebbe’s personal trusted secretary, Rabbi Nissan Mindel.
By the Grace of G-d
19th of Shevat, 5735
I received your letter of the 15th of Shevat, which as you know is the New Year for Trees.
To begin with a blessing, I think you very much for your good wishes in connection with our 25th Anniversary. Since G-d promised our Father Abraham, “I will bless them that bless you,” we have the assurance that everyone who blesses a Jew, especially a Jew who blesses a Jew, is himself blessed by G-d. Accordingly, may G-d bless you and all yours, out of His full, open holy and ample Hand, materially and spiritually.
And to continue in this vein, since you mention that on the 15th of Shevat is your birthday, may this be a blessed and successful year for you and may you, together with your wife, have true nachas, which is Yiddish Torah Nachas from your son and all the family.
It is surely unnecessary to emphasize to you that everything is by Hashgocho Protis – Divine Providence extending to every particular.
As is written in our holy sources and may father-in-law of saintly memory, whose Histalkus- Hilulo we observed on Yud Shevat, often emphasized, a Jew must not only recognize the Hashgocho Protis in everything but also learn a useful lesson from everything in one’s constant effort to advance in the service of G-d.
Thus, Tu biShevat, seems to be a paradox: it occurs in the middle of the winter in the Holy Land and it is not the time of fruit harvest; on the contrary, cold winds are blowing, etc. Yet precisely this day is Rosh Hashono Lo’ilonos, for this is the day when the trees awake from their winter sleep and the sap begins to flow upwards. (Rashi, Rosh Hashono 14a, at the end of the page). As you know, it is also customary to eat fruits on this day, particularly those with which Eretz Yisroel has been praised in the Torah, with a blessing before and after.
One of the teachings from the above is that when a Jew makes a firm resolution to so a good and fruitful thing, the benefit takes effect immediately, though the fruits will be revealed later. For when a Jew is resolved to do a good thing, nothing stands in his way and he receives help from G-d.
A further point, as explained by our Sages, is that the purpose of the Jewish soul in the body is something like planting a seed in the soil, from which a fruit-bearing tree grows forth. The fruits of a Jew are, of course, the mitzvos which can be performed only by the soul and body together. In this way the whole world becomes truly the Garden of G-d. No doubt you know that the Ma’amar of the day of the Hilulo begins with the words, Bosi l’gani “I came into My garden,” referring to this topic.
May G-d grant that you should have good news to report in all above.
P.S. Although you wrote in Yiddish and the answer should have been in Yiddish too, as usual, I wanted this letter to be in English in order that you could bring its contents to the attention of others who are more at home in this language.
The above letter is from a forthcoming volume of The Letter and the Spirit by Nissan Mindel Publications (NMP).
These letters were written originally in English and were prepared for publication by Rabbi Dr. Nissan Mindel, whose responsibility it was the Rebbe’s correspondence in English and several other languages.
We thank Rabbi Shalom Ber Schapiro, who was entrusted by his father-in-law Rabbi Mindel with his archives and who is Director of the Nissan Mindel Publications (NMP), for making the Rebbe’s letters available to the wider public. May the merit of the many stand him in good stead.