Sunday, January 3, 2010

Tu BeShvat, A Return to The Garden

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.


Rob P said...

I have never seen the garden and Yeshua's trail as being connected that way. Very interesting

Tim Layne said...

The idea was sparked by my good friend Zach Scheidler. I hope everyone makes even the connections that were not explicitly spelled out in this short article including the two heavenly beings placed both at the entrance to Gan Eden and in The Garden Tomb. The beauty is in the details.

Pastor Steven said...

When reading this article it made me think of the Word's of prophecy in Revelation 22:14 when John writes "Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city." NKJV



Tim Layne said...

That's interesting. This text from Revelation reminds me of the midrash (insight brought down from the sages)regarding the ancient city of Beit-El. This city was also called "Luz" (Gen 28:19; 35:6; 48:3; Joshua 16:2; 18:13; Judges 1:23). Chazal (our sages of blessed memory) say that the entrance to the city was obscured by a great almond tree (Luz=Almond). There is a strong connection between the almond tree and the concept of resurrection.

In the city of "Luz" techelet was produced. This is a dye which is used to color many of the coverings of the tabernacle as well as the "blue" cord of the fringed garment (Numbers 15:37)Chazal connect techelet to the resurrection of the dead (Sanhedrin 91a). This is interesting because it is said that the angel of death could not pass through the city of Luz(Sotah 46b). In Jewish thought the body is resurrected from one small fragment found at the base of the skull. This seed which is the source of our regenerated bodies is also called an almond/Luz.

Last Saturday my Rabbi compared the tabernacle to Gan Eden. He explained that the menorah which stood in the Holy place was like the tree of life in The Garden. This is meaningful in this context because the menorah is described in Torah as a "almond" tree (Exodus 25:33; 37:19).

Very interesting. I had never read this passage from Revelation as a reference to Luz and a connection between that city and the Garden.

malki said...

Very well written, I enjoyed reading!


Pastor Steven said...

Not sure why that passage came to mind, probably just the reference to the tree of life.

That is very interesting about how the tabernacle is compared to the Garden and the menorah being described as an almond tree.



Tim Layne said...

Yeah. The connection I was attempting to make above is that it could be argued that the Tree of Life is an almond tree. No one could enter Luz because the Gate was hidden by this tree. This statement that those "who keep mitzvot have the right to the Tree of Life and may enter through the gates into the city" suggest a reference to Luz which would make sense given the kind of stories that are told of this city where no one dies.

Pastor Steven said...

That makes sense to me, I probably won't read the Genesis or the Revelation passages the same way again. And I always thought the Tree of Life was an apple tree :)
I'm making the connection, even though some of these thoughts are a little new to me.



Mitko said...

And I thought Etz Haym is pomegranate or lemon...

Some connections between Eden and tomb of Yeshua:

Since 7th c. the Cave was described as "the Source of Life" by St. Modest, John Damascus, Patriarch Photius. (Underwood, P. The Fountain of Life in the manuscripts of the Gospels, p.96)

The atrium of the chuch above the tomb was known as "The Garden", "Eden", "The New Eden". (Underwood, P. Ibid., p. 105 n.245)

Origen said that Ps.74:12's action of God happens in the place of Yeshua's funeral.(Origen. Selecta in Psalmos, MPG 12, 1532)

Tim Layne said...

Thank you for those additions!

"The atrium of the chuch above the tomb was known as "The Garden", "Eden", "The New Eden". (Underwood, P. Ibid., p. 105 n.245)"

...very interesting.

Anders Branderud said...

Hello Tim Layne!
(I couldn't comment the Chief Rabbi-post, so I comment here instead. Hope it is okay.)

An important distinction the Chief Rabbi doesn’t make is this: “No one can follow two polar-opposite masters — the authentic, historical, PRO-Torah 1st-century Ribi from Nazareth and the 4th-century (post-135 C.E.), arch-antithesis ANTI-Torah apostasy developed by the Hellenists (namely the Sadducees and Roman pagans who conspired to kill Ribi YÓ™hoshua [ha-Mashiakh (the Messiah) from Nazareth], displaced his original followers and redacted the NT).”

To follow Ribi Yehoshua one needs to become one of his Netzarim-followers ( The followers of Ribi Yehoshua have always been subordinated to beit din ha-Netzarim (now it is in Ra'anana in Israel). Learn more in the above website.

All the best, Anders Branderud

Tim Layne said...

I don't usually leave comments like this, but Anders the things you are convinced of are nonsense. And The teacher you are learning from is not the only orthodox Jew who follows Mashiach. There are orthodox Rabbis who are chasidei Yeshua.

judeoxian said...

Kudos to you Tim. Great blog (been missing your posts), but I just wanted to second your criticism of Anders.

Anders, if we can't rely on the writings of the Apostles, then the Gospel has failed and Yeshua is a liar (G-d forbid). Give up your delusional conspiracies and falsified information about the historical Church. The Yeshua of the NT is the pro-Torah Messiah and Lord.