05 Feb 2015 Tu B’Shvat & Matan Torah
The beauty for which we celebrate the Rosh Ha’Shanah la’ilanot is not in what is readily apparent, but rather, in what is hidden. What seems to be barren is very much alive; what seems to be unproductive has tremendous potential; what seems empty and devoid of life is a thriving and living tree. The story of the tree is the story of man.
כִּי הָאָדָם עֵץ הַשָּׂדֶה – for man is the tree of the field (Deut.20:19). R’ Soloveitchik zt’l teaches that, “Deep down in the heart (of every Jew) there is warm sensitivity and love. In the center of his heart, in the depths of his personality, there is a fire burning… No Jew should be given up on as hopeless! We must have faith in (every) Jew, we must have hope. Sometimes (the fire within) is nearly invisible, but it is there if you look for it…It is possible for a person to hide a spiritual fire. Many Jews consider themselves too far gone, but they do not know that deep down within the recesses of their personalities the fire still burns, even if their outside is cold, dreary and sad.” (Vision and Leadership, p.83-85)
Deep down, the roots of that tree are very much alive, even when outside it is cold, the winter is dreary and the tree looks so sad. Inside, there is tremendous potential for renewal; inside, there is life!
What causes man to regrow when all hope seems lost? What keeps the inner fire alive?
בַּחֹדֶשׁ, הַשְּׁלִישִׁי, לְצֵאת בְּנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל, מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם–בַּיּוֹם הַזֶּה, בָּאוּ מִדְבַּר סִינָי – And it was in the third month after the Children of Israel left the land of Egypt, on this day, they came to the Wilderness of Sinai (Ex.19:1).
It is our intimate connection and deep bond that was forged with the Almighty at Sinai that sustains us, even through the dreary times in life. Our covenant with G-d is a bond of life in desolation, a bond of hope in the barren desert, a bond of Torah in the Wilderness of Sinai. No Jew should be given up on as hopeless, for each and every one of us has tremendous potential for renewal and regrowth. The tree appears bereft, but soon it will blossom. For, indeed, man is the tree of the field.
Wishing you a peaceful Shabbos Kodesh,