This year Tu BeShvat (Shevat 15) comes to us on the night of January 29, 2010. This is the Jewish "New Year for Trees." Marking much more than the growing cycle of the forest and orchard, this small holiday is filled with profound intention. With four cups of wine ranging from white to red we reflect upon the four seasons of the year and four worlds of tradition. We also consume various kind of nuts and fruits. All of this speaks of a return to the Garden of Eden and a connection to The Tree of Life. Below I have included a short reflection for the holiday.
A Return to The Garden
In The Garden, Adam Harishon (the first man) ate fruit and was satisfied from the trees of Pardes, the orchard (Aramaic). There, trees blossomed in an endless springtime season. Sustenance was found with the extension of an arm. Adam plucked sweetbread from leafy branches and lived in a state of total sheleimut—wholeness.
This was life as it was before man took from the forbidden tree, before exile, nakedness, thorns and the sweat of the brow—before death. In the beginning, Adam had been placed as a gardener east of Eden (Bereishit 2:15). He knew every tree of the field, including the location of the Tree of Life, his antidote and hope. Had Hashem not placed two obstructing angels before his path Adam would have undoubtedly raced to embrace its branches.
The text of our Tu BeShvat Seder is called a “tikkun.” The word means correction and reflects the intended purpose of the seder. Through the ingesting of symbolic foods, the sensitive observer intends to connect to, and participate in, a process of spiritual repair, opening the gates to the Tree of Life.
The B"CH reveals Mashiach’s role as Adam Hasheini (the second man). He is the True Tzaddik, performing acts of Tikkun. The “second Adam” is able to uncover the path to Gan Eden. Throughout the pages of our Besorot, Yeshua retraces the steps of Adam, reconnecting humanity to its source.
As if to rewind the ancient story, Yeshua’s suffering is intentionally portrayed as a reversal of our Genesis narrative. Before giving his life, a crown of thorns was placed upon the Tzaddik’s brow (Yo. 19:2). We can only wonder if he didn’t whisper the words, “Thorns and thistles shall the earth sprout for you,” and “By the sweat of your brow shall you eat…” That Yeshua was led beyond the walls of the holy city easily evokes the memory of an original exile beyond the bounds of paradise. Our scripture informs that Yeshua was returned to the original state of mankind, being stripped naked, his garments being stolen by wicked men (Mat 27:33-36). After eating the fruit, Adam was given garments with which to cover himself. Here we see The Tzaddik being stripped and exposed. Then, to use the language of Shimon bar Yonah; “Yeshua bore our transgressions, being hanged on a tree” (1 Kefa 2:24). As the Mashiach nears death, our text becomes clear and even obvious. Having been crucified beside a repentant transgressor, Yeshua turned and said to the man, “Today you will be with me in Pardes, in The Orchard of The Garden (Luke 23:43).” After the death of Mashiach, tzaddikim from Jerusalem requested his body. They wrapped and packed the body in one-hundred pounds of fragrant spices; it was placed in a grave hidden in a garden.
Miriam Magdala came and stood outside the kever (tomb); looking inside she saw two angels guarding the place where Mashiach’s body had been. Believing that these angels were simply men, she began franticly searching for Yeshua’s body in the garden. Our besorah recalls that as Miriam, with tear streaked face, turned about the garden she actually saw Yeshua standing in its midst, but took him for “the gardener.” The language used is intentional. Here Mashiach returns to the garden to reclaim the life of humanity in His own resurrection. Yeshua is the gardener—the second Adam. The image created in the text of our besorah is that of a man and a woman standing in a garden. Finally, with the ascent of Mashiach, on the fortieth day of the Omer, we witness a true return to The Garden—The Orchard.