Shabbat Parashat Beshalach-Tu Bishvat | 5764
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - The Saplings Came from Gan Eden - Manuscript of an address for Tu B’Shvat
“He [Avraham] planted an eshel in Be’er Sheva and called out there in the name of Hashem” (Bereishit 21:33). “Noach began (vayachel- a root which can refer to the mundane) as a man of the land, and he planted a vineyard” (ibid. 9:20). The Ba’al Haturim points out that the verb of planting arises also in Bereishit 2:8 in reference to the planting of a garden in Eden. He says that this recurrence teaches us that Noach and Avraham took their saplings from Gan Eden. It is fascinating to see the fate of these saplings, as one was used to call out in the name of Hashem and the other was used for the mundane (Rashi, from the root vayachel).
The memories of Tu B’Shvat, holiday of the trees, stay with us from the days we were imprisoned within the ghettos of Europe. We would take the carob and the date and, when making the “Shehechianu,” would sigh as we remembered our Eretz Hemdah, the land we desired, yet was so distant. It is clear, though, that Tu B’Shvat did not originate in the Diaspora. On the contrary, it received its content from the time we lived in the Land, when it certainly had a more festive character.
From the time we were distanced from our Land, we also lost some of our desire for it. We found our home more in the batei midrash. But in ancient times, we knew that Zeraim, dealing with the laws of agriculture, is called emunah (belief), because he who plants believes that the order of the world will continue, and his seeds will grow. The healthy, natural person is interested by the small, blossoming flower and by the blade of grass, which is commanded by the angel to grow, as these phenomena are revelations of the Divine. When Yitzchak walked in the fields, he instituted the prayer of Mincha. The Ba’al Shem Tov was spiritually inspired in the forests, and the Ari took his students to the mountains to usher in the Shabbat. David Hamelech sang the soulful songs of Hashem as he contemplated creation (see Tehillim 104). The question arises, what happens to the feelings of G-d of those among the nations, who live off their lands without inspiration.
The answer is the term vayachel of Noach, referring to the sapling from Gan Eden that he used to become intoxicated. That is the nature of wine, which can bring happiness or destruction. (“… wine was their drink, and at the work of Hashem they did not look” (Yeshaya 5:12)). Work can intoxicate to the point that a person finds his satisfaction in his own work and thinks that he performed the miracle of turning a seed into a plant. This is the intoxication, which is rampant today among the workers’ movement, who see only their own, not Hashem’s work.
We must always remember that when one works, he must not treat it as mundane work. We must see in it the Divine actions and miracles. Then the work will both interest us and purify us.
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