"LIVING WITH MOSHIACH,"
Parshat Beshalach, 5761
Shevat 16, 5761
Feb. 9, 2001
Dedicated to educating the public regarding the
current situation in Israel, based on Torah
sources, with special emphasis on the opinion
and teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe
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"I BELIEVE WITH COMPLETE FAITH IN THE ARRIVAL OF THE MOSHIACH.
"AND THOUGH HE MAY TARRY, I SHALL WAIT EACH DAY, ANTICIPATING HIS
Maimonides, Principles of the Faith, No. 12
THIS PUBLICATION IS DEDICATED
TO THE REBBE,
RABBI MENACHEM M. SCHNEERSON
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of the Rebbe
The Daily Sicha (in Real Audio)
- Listen to selected excerpts of the Rebbe's Sichos
[talks] which are relevant to the particular day.
We are pleased to present, to the visually impaired and the blind, our weekly
publication, Living With Moshiach.
In this week's issue, we focus on:
1) Shabbat Parshat Beshalach (Sat., Feb. 10), known
as Shabbat Shirah.
2) Tu B'Shevat, the 15th day of Shevat (Thursday, Feb. 8).
Our sincere appreciation to
publication, published by the Lubavitch Youth Organization, for allowing
us to use their material.
Also, many thanks to our copy editor, Reb
his tireless efforts.
It is our fervent hope that our learning about Moshiach and the Redemption
will hasten the coming of Moshiach, NOW!
Rabbi Yosef Y. Shagalov,
Committee for the Blind
5 Shevat, 5761
Brooklyn, New York
At the end of this week's Torah portion, Beshalach, we read of the
war between Amalek and the Jewish people. The battle that
Amalek initiated against the Jews had such impact that each day,
after the morning prayers we read, "Remember what Amalek did to you
on the way as you came out of Egypt; how he met you on the way, and cut down
all the weak who straggled behind you, when you were weary and exhausted...
you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under Heaven. Do not
Amalek is more than just an ancient biblical people. The commentator
Rashi explains that Amalek cooled off the warmth and enthusiasm that
the Jews felt after leaving Egypt and experiencing G-d's miracles, especially
the tangible revelation of G-dliness at the Red Sea.
Amalek represents negative traits that can manifest themselves within
every Jew. Amalek fought against the Jews, hardening them and making
an opening for coldness toward Judaism to seep in. Amalek, then, is
symbolic of a Jew's spiritless, unenthusiastic, passionless attitude toward
the observance of Torah and mitzvot. We are enjoined to remember
every day what Amalek did to us so that we can constantly be
on the lookout for and fight against any personal negativity toward Judaism
or our spiritual service.
Amalek was the first to attempt to fight against the Jewish people,
for all the nations of the world feared the Jews, having heard about the
miracles with which G-d brought them out of Egypt, and about the splitting
of the red Sea. Amalek could not stand the greatness of the Jewish
people and the miracles G-d had wrought for them. Amalek, therefore,
is also symbolic of brashness and arrogance; only such a nation would have
the audacity to fight against those who were so obviously chosen by G-d.
"Amalek" can manifest itself within every person--rudeness, ego, and
haughtiness--finding it intolerable that there are others greater than oneself.
When the war against Amalek became inevitable, Moses commanded his
disciple Joshua, "Choose us men and go out and fight Amalek." Moses
told Joshua that in this war, Joshua had to choose us, men like Moses,
who were the epitome of humility and modesty.
In order to rid oneself of the egotism and haughtiness of Amalek,
one must work on becoming like Moses--humble, modest, and nullified before
There is a Moses in every generation. And the "men of Moses" are those people
who fight against the Amalek who attempt to cool down the fire, warmth
and enthusiasm one has toward Judaism.
The Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson of Lubavitch, issued a call that
"The time of our Redemption has arrived!" and "Moshiach is on his
The Rebbe stressed that he is saying this
prophecy, and asks us all to prepare ourselves for the Redemption,
through increasing acts of goodness and kindness.
Let us all heed the Rebbe's call.
Shabbat Parshat Beshalach (Sat., Feb. 10), is known
as Shabbat Shirah, commemorating the shirah, or song that the
Jewish people sang at the Splitting of the Red Sea. The song is recorded
in the weekly Torah portion, and includes details of how Moshe led the men
in song and Miriam led the women in song and dance.
On Shabbat Shirah it is customary to eat kasha--buckwheat groats.
Some also have the custom of putting kasha or bread crumbs out for
the birds before Shabbat so that they, too, can partake.
* * *
The reason for this custom is quite interesting and originates in the weekly
Torah portion. We read this week about the manna, the bread from Heaven,
with which the Jews were sustained during their 40-year sojourn in the desert.
The Jews were commanded to gather each morning just enough manna to
feed their families for the day. Miraculously, each person had precisely
the amount he needed for his family, not more and not less.
Before Shabbat, the Jews were told to gather a double portion; no
manna would fall on Shabbat since it is forbidden to gather
on the holy day. Some scoffers saved some of their manna from that
morning and scattered it on Friday evening. Their plan was to gather the
manna Shabbat morning and bring it into the camp, thus discrediting
Moses and proving their claim that Moses created his own mitzvot.
During the night, after the manna had been strewn, birds came and
gathered it all up, thus vindicating Moses and sanctifying the Sabbath among
the Jewish people.
In appreciation and gratitude of the birds' deed, we make sure to give them
food on Shabbat Shirah.
* * *
Might we not take a lesson from this Jewish tradition passed on through the
ages? If it is customary to show gratitude to birds for such a small act,
might we not also learn to show gratitude to our brothers and sisters for
each act of kindness or caring that they do for us?
The central and focal point of this month is the New Year for Trees, which
brings to mind the well-known Biblical analogy, "Man is like a tree," an
analogy that embraces many aspects, general and particular. Since this analogy
is given by the Torah, the Torah of Truth, it is certain to be precise in
all its aspects, each of which is instructive in a general or particular
way, for every one of us, man and woman.
For such is the purpose of every detail of the Torah (meaning, "instruction")--to
induce everyone to reflect on it and derive practical instruction from it
in everyday life.
Accordingly, I will refer to some general points of the said analogy.
To begin with, the essence of a living tree is, above all, that it grows,
its growth being the sign of its being alive.
The purpose of a tree is to be--in the words of the Torah--"a fruit-tree
bearing fruit after its kind, whose seed is within itself," which is, to
produce fruit with seeds from which will grow trees and fruits of the same
Indeed, the perfection of a tree lies in its ability to produce trees and
fruits to all posterity.
To translate the above points in human terms:
A human being must grow and develop continuously, however satisfactory the
level may be at any given time. This is also indicated in the expression
of our Sages--whose sayings are concise but profoundly meaningful--"ma'alin
b'kodesh," "holiness should be kept on the ascendancy."
Similarly in regard to the point: A human being should produce "fruits" for
the benefit of many others beside himself; the kind of benefit which is coupled
The meaning of "delight" in this context will become clear from the distinction
in regard to the seven species of produce with which the Land of Israel is
praised in the Torah: "A land of wheat and barley, and wine, and fig, and
pomegranate, a land of olive oil and (date) honey." Wheat and barley are
basic goods necessary for human sustenance, while the fruits of trees are
both sustaining and nourishing as well as enjoyable and delightful.
And the third point: One must strive to produce "fruit-bearing fruits," so
that the beneficiary enjoying these fruits should in turn become a "fruit-bearing
tree" like the benefactor.
Needless to say, the "fruits," of which we are speaking here, are those which
our Sages specify, saying, "the fruits of tzaddikim (which includes
every Jew and Jewess, as it is written, 'And Your people are all
tzaddikim') are mitzvot and Good Deeds."
These are some of the basic teachings of the New Year for Trees, which have
an immediate, practical relevance to each and every Jew, man and woman. There
is a further allusion to this in the meaningful Jewish custom to eat on this
day various kinds of fruits which grow on trees.
And when a Jew firmly resolves to proceed from strength to strength in all
matters of Torah and mitzvot, both in regard to himself and in
disseminating them in his environment, he has the assurance of realizing
his fullest potential--"like a tree planted by streams of water that brings
forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not wither, and whatever
he does shall prosper."
Until the time will be ripe for the fulfillment of the promise, "the tree
of the field shall yield its fruit," in the plain sense, meaning that even
non-producing fruit trees shall produce fruits.
On Tu B'Shevat, the New Year for Trees, we are reminded of the passage,
"Man is like a tree in the field." When a tree is still a tiny sapling, and
even when it is yet a seed, every small detail of its care has important
ramifications. A small amount of proper care will yield a properly developed
tree, but even the smallest, undesirable action will result in immeasurable
damage to the final result.
So it is with the education of a person. Even those details that appear marginal
and secondary, or appear unworthy of our investing so much effort into them,
eventually are revealed to be of the utmost importance. Every little action
taken toward providing the proper Jewish education for our children will
result in a whole and sound adult. But even a tiny scratch on the young "seed"
can result in great damage done to the grown person.
A(1) tiny seedling's germination and development into a
full-fledged, fruit-producing tree is one of the most inspiring transformations
in all of G-d's creation. First and foremost comes the development of the
tree's root system. Thereafter the trunk and body of the tree as well as
the branches and leaves come into being. Finally there comes the time when
the tree bears its fruit.
The tree's roots are for the most part concealed from the eyes of the beholder.
Nevertheless, the tree derives its main life-force from these roots. While
it is true that the leaves also help the trees by absorbing sunlight, etc.,
the roots are the tree's mainstay; sever the roots and the tree will soon
wither and die.
Furthermore, the roots enable the tree to firmly embed itself in the earth
and remain impervious to strong gusts of wind or other elements that seek
to uproot it.
The trunk and body of the tree, including the leaves, constitute the overwhelming
majority of the actual mass of the tree. This part of the tree is generally
in a constant state of growth--thicker trunk and boughs, additional leaves,
etc. Furthermore, the age of the tree may be ascertained from its trunk and
body, especially from the tree's annual rings.
Despite the physical predominance of the trunk and body of the tree, the
tree attains a state of completion only when it bears fruit. This is so to
an even greater degree when the kernel contained within the fruit serves
as the forebear and seed for future trees in coming generations.
How does all this apply to man?
Man, too, has roots, possesses a trunk and body, and produces fruit. In many
aspects there is a remarkable degree of similarity between man's
development--even his spiritual development--and that of a tree's.
Man's roots are his faith. It is a person's faith that unites and binds him
with G-d, the source and wellspring of his existence. Even after the Jew
grows in Torah knowledge and in the performance of Divine commandments, he
still derives his life-force through his belief in G-d, Judaism, and Torah.
Conversely, a weakening in one's spiritual root system of faith can have
dire consequences even on an otherwise spiritually well-developed individual.
Having achieved the level of "setting down roots" of faith, a person may
be inclined to pat himself on the back and be content to rest on his laurels.
Here the tree comes and tells us that it is composed predominantly of trunk,
branches, and leaves. In spiritual terms this means that a Jew can never
be satisfied with faith alone, for he would then be like a tree that laid
down roots, but never developed a trunk, branches and leaves. Such a "tree"
is in reality no tree at all--its roots are here, but nothing else. In addition
to the healthy roots a Jew must have the full complement of trunk, branches,
A Jew's trunk, branches, and leaves are the study of Torah, the performance
of Divine commandments, and good deeds. They should comprise the overwhelming
majority of his activities and actions. One can tell a Jew's "age" by measuring
his "rings" as well--how many of his years have been spent in pursuit of
spiritual knowledge and substantive deeds.
Furthermore, just as a tree's body grows constantly, so, too, should there
be constant growth in the Jew's trunk, branches and leaves--in Torah, performance
of Divine commandments, and doing good deeds.
As laudable as all these things are, man, however, attains his state of
completion and wholeness, when--like a tree--he bears fruit, affecting his
friends and neighbors in a manner that they, too, fulfill the purpose of
their creation. By doing so, he bears fruit, generation after generation.
1. Adapted from "From the Wellsprings of Chassidus," published by
Sichos In English, 788 Eastern
Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11213.
"On Tu B'Shevat, the 15th day of Shevat [Thursday, Feb. 8],
it is customary to partake generously of fruits, and in particular, the species
of fruit for which the Land of Israel is blessed--wheat, barley, grapes,
pomegranates, figs, olives, and dates... similarly, it is customary to eat
carobs on Tu B'Shevat."
The Rebbe, 11 Shevat, 5751/1991
Some have the custom of making fruit-salad from fifteen different fruits.
A Sephardic custom is to stay awake the entire night, studying all the biblical,
talmudic and kabbalistic sources relating to the fruit of Israel and stopping
at intervals to eat different fruits.
Tu B'Shevat, the New Year of the Trees, is here. But what does that
have to do with us, other than eating some extra fruit, etc.?
Let's take a moment to consider the fruit for which the Land of Israel is
blessed as enumerated by the Torah: Two, wheat and barley, are grains. The
other five, grapes, pomegranates, figs, olives, and dates, are fruits.
One difference between grain and fruit is that grain is a staple food, necessary
for the maintenance of our well-being. Fruits are delicacies, eaten for pleasure.
Tu B'Shevat gives us the potential to carry out our service, not only
according to the very minimum necessary to maintain our existence, but rather
in a manner that leads to pleasure--our own and our Creator's.
There is another area in which grains and fruits differ. When grain is harvested,
though there is an abundant increase in quantity, the grain is of the same
nature as the kernels which were originally planted. In contrast, the seed
of a fruit tree is of an entirely different nature than the fruit that is
Similarly, in regard to our service of G-d, the metaphor of fruit trees alludes
to a service that is not limited to the basic necessities, but rather generates
pleasure. It reveals the potential for growth, not only a quantitative increase,
but also, a leap to a higher level, a new framework of reference altogether.
Since Tu B'Shevat is the "New Year of the Trees," it generates new
life energy for those dimensions of a Jew's service that are compared to
May we all truly avail ourselves of this new life energy to fulfill our potential
in making this world a fitting home for G-d and G-dliness.
"A person was walking in the desert, hungry, tired and thirsty. He came upon
a tree with sweet fruits, pleasant shade and the source of water passing
"The person ate from its fruit, drank from its water and sat in its shade.
And when he was ready to leave he said, 'Tree, tree, with what shall I bless
"'If I say that your fruits should be sweet--why, your fruits are already
"'--that your shade should be pleasant, your shade is already pleasant!
"'--that water should flow from beneath you, it already does!
"'Therefore I will pray that it be His will that all of the saplings planted
from you will be like you!"'
* * *
Especially around the holiday of Tu B'Shevat, the New Year for Trees,
we are reminded of the verse, "Man is like a tree in the field." Our Sages
offer various reasons and explanations as to how a person is similar to a
tree. The Bible, commentaries and Talmud are replete with examples of how
the Jewish people are analogous to the seven fruits with which Israel has
been praised. To mention a few:
Just as (olive) oil does not mix with other liquids, so, too, the Children
of Israel stand out from other nations.
The date is all good--its fruit can be eaten, its branches are used as
lulavs, its leaves are used for the roof of the sukkah, its
fiber for binding, and it stands straight--so, too, amongst the Jews there
is none who is worthless.
Just as grapes have within them food and drink, so, too, do the Children
of Israel have Torah knowledge and good deeds.
The roots of the fig-tree are delicate, yet they break through the toughest
Even the most "empty" amongst you are as full of mitzvot as a pomegranate
(is of seeds).
We can see from the above sampling how truly rich are the Jewish people.
If this is the case, then, like the desert tree are we lacking anything?
With what can we be blessed?
The greatest blessing is: "May it be His will that all of the saplings planted
from us--all of our actions and deeds (our spiritual offspring) and our
children--be sweet and pleasant and nourishing like us."
It's almost Tu B'Shevat, that fruit-eating and tree-planting time
of year. Now, someone out there might be wondering what he would do if he
was in the middle of planting a tree (or at least parting with his money
for a tree certificate!) and Moshiach came.
Interestingly enough, one of our Sages answered that question over 1,500
Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai used to say: "If there is a plant in your hand
when they say to you: 'Behold, the Moshiach!'--go and plant the seedling,
and afterward go out to greet him."
What does this mean to you? Take a moment to think about it and then read
"Behold, Moshiach is coming."
The Rebbe made this statement publicly at numerous gatherings in 5751-52/1991-92.
One might conjecture that, once such a powerful statement was made, all that
was left for us to do was sit around and wait for some kind of high-tech,
multi media, miraculous event to take place which would herald the messianic
Nothing could be further from the truth. Although the Rebbe said that all
of the spiritual service that needed to be completed in exile had been done,
we were not expected to take a short vacation until the Redemption. On the
contrary, the Rebbe told us to prepare ourselves to greet Moshiach by performing
acts of goodness and kindness, doing more mitzvot, studying more Torah,
and performing mitzvot in a more perfect manner.
"Go and plant the seedling," the Rebbe tells us. Continue and increase all
of the good and G-dly things you are presently doing. Learn more. Give more.
Do more. For the more you plant now, the more bountiful will be your harvest
in the messianic era.
In addition, the Rebbe mentioned numerous times that we will lose nothing
in the messianic era. To those people who were concerned that everything
they worked to build up--businesses, relationships, material possessions--would
be lost when Moshiach comes, the Rebbe explained that the difference between
our lives in exile and in the Messianic Era is symbolized by the Hebrew words
"gola"--"exile," and "geula"--"Redemption." The only difference
between these two words is that "gola" lacks the Hebrew letter
"alef"--which stands for the "Alufo shel olam"--the "Master
of the Universe." When Moshiach comes, the presence and life-giving energy
of the Master of the Universe will be totally revealed in every aspect of
"Go and plant the seedling," Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai tells us. And surely,
with all the fruits of your labor, from all the seedlings you have planted,
you will be able to greet Moshiach in a dignified and upright manner.
Advertising agencies would like us to believe that you can tell a lot about
people from the--fill in the blank--cars they drive, clothes they wear, liquor
they drink, credit cards they use, etc., etc., ad nauseam. What about
food? Can you tell anything about a person, or more specifically, about a
Jew's very essence, from the food he eats?
In honor of Tu B'Shevat, the New Year for Trees, let's take a look
at the seven "fruits" with which the Torah praises the Land of Israel, "a
land of wheat and barley and grapes and figs and pomegranates, a land of
olive oil and (date) honey." We'll see how these fruits--whether or not you
eat them--can tell a lot about who you are, or who you can be. For, these
seven fruits are symbolic--according to the mystical teachings of Judaism--of
seven aspects of our spiritual growth.
Wheat is described by our Sages as "food for humans." It refers to the part
of ourselves which is uniquely human--the G-dly soul. Food taken into our
bodies must be assimilated for us to remain healthy. Similarly, the Divine
spark in each of us needs to be assimilated into our beings and into every
aspect of our lives--even our most mundane activities.
Our Sages refer to barley as "food for animals" and this refers to our more
base desires which, according to Chassidic philosophy, come from the "animal
soul." Thus, those parts of us which would fall into the category of "animal
instincts" need to be elevated and permeated with purpose.
Grapes make wine which, according to the Talmud, makes "G-d and man glad."
Interestingly, the Talmud uses the word "anashim," rather than one
of the other words for "man" in this instance. Chassidic philosophy says
that anashim refers to people who are on the lowest spiritual rung.
Gladness and happiness are indeed a form of spiritual service, one which
can be attained by individuals who are not involved in lofty, spiritual pursuits.
The G-dly service associated with grapes indicates not only that we ourselves
should strive to be joyful at all times, but that our joy should be infectious
and we should influence others to have this positive approach to life and
The Torah relates that fig leaves were used to make the first garments worn
by people--Adam and Eve. Afterwards, G-d gave people "leather garments."
"Leather" in Hebrew is "ohr" and is spelled with the Hebrew letter
ayin. The Hebrew word for "light" is also "ohr," though it
is spelled with an alef. In the Talmud, Rabbi Meir refers to Adam
and Eve's clothing as garments of "ohr" with an alef, meaning
garments of light. This means that each of us should endeavor to spread the
light of the Torah to those whom we meet.
Jewish teachings explain that even the simplest Jew is as filled with
mitzvot as a pomegranate is filled with seeds. For, G-d created the
world in such a way that it is virtually impossible for a person to go through
life without performing mitzvot at every turn. The fact that each
seed in the pomegranate is a separate entity indicates that each
mitzvah has its own unique importance.
Olives are bitter. This implies that, though a Jew's life must be characterized
by sweetness, and that his primary approach must be one of joy, still, when
evaluating spiritual achievements, he must come to a state of bitterness.
(Warning: bitterness is not depression. Chassidus deals extensively with
the differences between bitterness and depression and the detrimental effects
of depression, but that's another article!)
Dates are referred to in the verse above as "honey." Honey is the Torah's
mystical aspect. The study of the mystical aspects of Torah strengthens the
inner dimensions of the Jewish soul, the essence of our being which controls
Through developing all of these aspects of ourselves and by encouraging others
to do the same, we will merit to go to the Land of Israel where we will enjoy
not only the actual fruits with which the Land of Israel is praised, but
also the fruits of our labor during the long exile.
= 1 =
During one of the Roman Emperor Hadrian's tours through Israel, he happened
upon an old man, digging holes in the soil, about to plant young saplings.
Looking at the gray hairs of the old man, the Emperor exclaimed, "Hey, Graybeard.
Surely you did not work in your youthful days that you have to work in your
"Nay, sir," replied the old man, "I have worked both in my youth, and am
not loath to work in my old age, as long as G-d will grant me strength."
"But surely you do not expect to eat of the fruit of your labor! Where will
you be by the time these saplings bring forth their fruit?"
"If it be G-d's will," answered the old man, "I might yet enjoy the fruits
of these young trees."
"You are very hopeful, old man. How old are you?"
"This is my hundredth birthday today."
"You are a hundred years old, and yet hope to eat the fruit of these trees?
Why work so hard for so slim a chance?"
"Even should G-d not spare me long, I will not have worked in vain. Just
as my grandfathers planted for me, so do I plant for my grandchildren."
"Upon your life, Sage," exclaimed the Emperor, "if you live long enough to
eat this fruit, please let me know."
Years went by, and the young fig trees brought forth their fruit. The old
man remembered his conversation with Hadrian and decided it was time to keep
his appointment with the Emperor. He selected a basketful of choice figs,
and off he went. When the guards finally admitted him, the Emperor did not
"What brings you here, old man?" Hadrian asked impatiently.
"I am the man you saw planting saplings near Tiberias, a few years ago. You
requested me to let you know should I live long enough to enjoy their fruits.
Well, here I am, and here is a basket of figs for the Emperor's pleasure."
Hadrian opened his eyes wide in astonishment. He ordered that a golden chair
be placed before the old man, and begged him to be seated. The Emperor ordered
his servants to empty out the basket full of figs and replace them with gold
coins. Hadrian's ministers were shocked at his respectful treatment of the
old Jew. But when they voiced their displeasure, he reprimanded them, saying,
"If the Creator of the World has so honored this man, granting him so many
years, surely he is deserving that I honor him as well!"
When the old man returned home, with gold and glory, his neighbors came out
to congratulate him.
One couple, however, became very envious. The wife suggested to her husband,
"It seems that the Emperor loves figs! Why don't you take some figs to him,
and fetch home their weight in gold also! And don't be foolish, bringing
only a small basketful! Make sure you take a big sack, and you'll bring home
a veritable treasure!"
The man did as his wife suggested. When he arrived at the Emperor's gates,
he said to the guard, "I heard that the Emperor is very fond of figs and
exchanges them for gold coins. I brought a sack full of juicy figs. Won't
you let me bring it in to the Emperor?"
"Wait here," said the captain of the guards.
"Have that silly man stood up by the gates of the palace," the Emperor commanded
wrathfully. "Place the sack of figs that he brought at the entrance, and
let everyone entering and leaving the palace throw a fig at him!"
The Emperor's orders were carried out to the letter. Towards evening, when
the "ammunition" was exhausted, the man was released and sent home.
Upon seeing his bruised face, his wife exclaimed, "What happened to you?
Where's the gold?"
"I wish you were there to share my wealth," the husband said, and related
to her all that had happened.
= 2 =
Reb Nisim lived in a small town in Israel. He and his large family lived
very simply, receiving all of their sustenance solely from a pomegranate
Every summer the tree was full of large, luscious pomegranates. People came
from all over to purchase the wonderful "Nisim" pomegranates. One summer,
however, there were no pomegranates to be seen on the tree.
Reb Nisim called to his young son Avraham. "Climb quickly up the tree and
see if maybe there are some pomegranates which we have not noticed from below."
"I've found three," called out Avraham joyfully. He carefully handed the
beautiful fruits to his father.
Never before had they seen such glorious fruits. That Shabbat, Reb Nisim
treated his family to two of the pomegranates. The third one, he decided,
would be saved for Tu B'shevat--the New Year for Trees.
That year was very difficult for Reb Nisim's family, with not even the
pomegranate tree to sustain them. Reb Nisim's wife suggested that he go outside
of Israel to collect money for the family. "I cannot hear of such a thing,"
answered Reb Nisim. "We live in the holy land of Israel and I will not leave
for any reason."
But, after weeks of the children going to bed hungry, Reb Nisim finally agreed.
He promised himself, though, "In all my travels, I will never reveal to anyone
that I am a resident of Israel."
For months, Reb Nisim traveled from city to city, without much luck. Each
place had enough to support its own poor. And, because Reb Nisim refused
to reveal from where he came from, he was not the recipient of much charity.
On the fifteenth of Shevat, Reb Nisim arrived in the city of Koshta, Turkey.
There he found the Jews gathered together in the synagogue, weeping and reciting
Psalms. "The Sultan's son is on his deathbed. He has decreed that unless
his son recovers, all Jews must leave the country by today. We have sent
doctors and cures, but nothing has worked," explained the sexton to Reb Nisim.
A few minutes later the sexton returned. "Our holy rabbi would like to see
you. He says that you are a visitor from the land of Israel."
Reb Nisim entered the rabbi's study quite perplexed. He had told no one that
he was from the land of Israel. How had the rabbi heard?
"There is a special scent about you," began the rabbi, "from the Holy Land."
"It must be the fragrance of the pomegranate which I have with me," explained
Reb Nisim. "Since today is Tu B'Shevat, I would like to share it with
the holy rabbi."
The rabbi's face lit up. "You have with you a pomegranate from the Holy Land?
What, may I ask, is your name?"
Reb Nisim told the rabbi his name. The rabbi's smile broadened. "In honor
of Tu B'Shevat, I have been studying a discussion of different types
of fruits in my holy books." And here, the rabbi went into a detailed explanation
of what he had read. He finished by saying, "I came to the conclusion that
the acronym for the word "rimonym" ("pomegranates" in Hebrew) is:
Refua Melech O'bno Nisim Y'viya M'hara--the recovery for the king
and his son, Nisim will bring quickly. We must get your pomegranate to the
The rabbi and Reb Nisim entered the palace sick room. The sultan's son was
close to death. They gave juice from the pomegranate seeds to the unconscious
boy. His color changed back to normal and his eyes fluttered open. A few
more drops brought about an even more dramatic improvement.
The sultan was overjoyed. "I will remember you always," he said, with tears
of happiness streaming down his face.
Reb Nisim returned home with presents of gold and silver from the sultan.
And, their pomegranate tree returned to its previous state of bearing abundant
Jewish Women and Girls Light Shabbat
For local candle lighting times:
consult your local Rabbi, Chabad-Lubavitch Center, or call: (718) 774-3000.
For a free candle lighting kit:
contact your local Chabad-Lubavitch Center.
For a listing of the Centers in your area:
In the USA, call: 1-800-Lubavitch (1-800-582-2848).
Times shown are for Metro NY - NJ
Friday, Feb. 9, Erev Shabbat Parshat Beshalach:
Light Shabbat Candles,(2) by 5:04 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 10, Shabbat Parshat Beshalach:
2. The Shabbat candles must be lit 18 minutes before
sunset. It is prohibited and is a desecration of the Shabbat
to light the candles after sunset.
Laws of Shabbat Candle
Lighting for the Blind
"Let There Be
Light" - The Jewish Women's Guide to Lighting Shabbat Candles.