Tu Bishvat: A time to ponder

Tu Bishvat is a time to ponder the great kindness of the fruit trees that Hashem bestows upon us. However, we find a reference in the Torah to man being like a “tree of the field” (Devarim 20:19). Thus, it would be appropriate for us to also utilize this time period as an opportunity to contemplate our own, personal growth.

The Gemara quotes Rava, who stated as following (Taanis 4a, as explained by Rashi): “This young, sharp youth, is comparable to a seed that is under a clump of earth. Once it begins to sprout, it keeps sprouting [higher and higher].” This means that just like the sprouting seed, so too the young boy who seeks to grow in a life of Torah will become a learned person whose name will eventually become known, as he keeps spiraling upwards.

The power of the seed

What was Rava’s intention in making this statement? How should one understand the precise message of this parable? We may give the following elucidation.

A seed is very inconspicuous, appearing as quite ordinary, with nothing external to show for itself. Yet, we are all aware that inside this same small kernel lies the ability to produce endless amounts of towering, fruit-bearing trees. However, there is one thing that appears to prevent it from continuing to grow. How difficult it appears for this small seed to be able to break forth from the thick earth that covers it!

Comparable to this seed is the youth who tries to immerse himself in a life of Torah and its study. Yet, he might find that he is surrounded by materialistic desires that pull him down from all sides. At times, he might feel smothered by this ‘earthly’ world, as he struggles to climb upwards.

The power within us

Thus Rava tells us the importance for this boy, or anyone who is looking to grow, to realize his true potential. Although it might seem even to himself that he is very ordinary, this is the furthest thing from the truth. He must know, that he is actually full of many strengths that have the potential of producing an endless flow of spirituality. It is therefore, of the utmost importance, for this person to have the foresight, to keep looking upward toward what it is he can become. Let him realize that although he is currently fighting a battle of materialism and desires, he must keep himself focused upon the future. As long as he remains absorbed in the study and pursuit of Torah, he will slowly make his way through the thick ‘earthly’ covering, until he finally prevails. Rava then states that there will be a point, once he passes this hurdle, in which he will finally see the fruits of his labor. It will be then, that he will find himself climbing higher and higher up the ladder of spiritual success.

Tu Bishvat by Rabbi Usher Smith

The Sefer “Passion for Perfection” by this author is now available in Hebrew bookstores or direct from the distributor, at zbermanbooks.com.

Please follow us and share:

Want constant access to online Torah and Jewish resources?

First Name: 
Last Name: 
Leave a Reply