0 Posted by - February 4, 2016 - Parsha, Shemot


Tu Bishvat


On Tu B’shvat, we don’t say Tachanun; we do not confess our sins, for it is a day of celebration. We celebrate the trees, ×—×’ לאילנות.  It is considered a new year in regard to tithing. Why does the birthday of the tree fall at a time when it is bare of fruit? Why does the birthday of the trees effect our saying or not saying Tachanun?

The Torah compares Man to a tree, כי האדם עץ השדה, for The Man is a tree of the field (Devarim 20; 19). Why? What is the parallel between a man and a tree? The secrets of life success can be learned from a tree. There are certain things in life that we can’t understand without an analogy. The Torah uses the power of parable to explain the essence of life to Man. There are a few types of trees, as there are a few types of people. There are those who produce beautiful fruit, there are those who produce regular fruit, and there are those who do not produce at all. The secret of successful living is to learn from the life cycle of the tree, to bring out the best of oneself in life. It is broken down to P 3.

Successful people Project. They plan ahead, Projecting into the future. Most people overestimate what they can produce in a year and underestimate what they can produce in 5 years. The successful people project, in great detail, how things can look in 5 years from now, and work each day on attaining their new goal. They know what type of “fruits”, what type of life they want to have in five years from now. And in accordance to the dream, the vision, the Product, they know which seeds to plant, when to plant them, and where. They guard their time, like a hawk, to get the most out of every minute to get them where they want to be.

Successful people are aware of their Potential. The first Man was called Adam, because that expressed his essence. That he came from the Adamah, the earth, dirt. Sounds insulting? Yes, and no. If you do not see your potential, then you will return to the ground as earth. But earth has, also, a flip side. With earth, one can create so many amazing things. The parallel of Man to dirt is potential. There’s another meaning concealed in the name “Adam”: man has a lofty potential of “adameh“, I will be similar to G-d; I will try to emulate Him.

This is the idea of being Tree-like. Successful people see if they have the right seeds, the right strengths, to do what it takes. They have enough self-awareness to know clearly if they have the Potential to make these fruits develop. Now, once they see the potential, they celebrate. Because once you catch a glimpse of your potential, passion is born. The idea of Tu Bishvat is celebrating the potential.

And, the third P, successful people have Patience.  According to Business Expert Brian Tracy, It takes 7 years to establish a successful business. The first two years, you lose money and time as you learn the new business. The next two years, you have enough experience to know what your Unique Selling Proposition is, and you start breaking even. The next three years, you are living comfortably, as you pay back your debt. Once you are seven years in the business, you have the experience you need to reach the top 10 percent of your field. Once you reach that, you will be earning 20 to 30 percent more than the average worker in your field. Any business that can be successfully built in a year or two will be met with a flooded market of competition. And you will always be under threat of strong competition, until you are able to become one of the top 10 percent experts of your field. So, you need patience, in order to build any healthy business.

We live in a Microwave generation, a Smartphone “scatterbrain” generation, and it has become extremely difficult to simply wait patiently for anything good, no matter how important. Whether it is Torah learning, business, Shalom Bayit, or raising wonderful children. But the trees that grow slowly, but steadily, tended with patience and care, bear the best fruit. A tree has a whole root system, beginning with very thin, hair-like roots and developing into thick ones. A Talmud scholar will not find himself rooted in Torah learning, if he keeps ripping out the tree from the ground to check if he is “getting anywhere”. The tree won’t grow, and he won’t see the fruits of labor.

And, one last analogy from human life to a tree. In Ramat Shlomo, Jerusalem, two weeks ago, the Jerusalem Municipality painted the parts of the trees where the non-productive branches had been removed, with a blue glue/paint. My student asked me why. I responded that in order for the tree to give you its max, it needs every drop of water and energy to go up from the roots to the right places. If we want the tree to grow its best, the non-productive parts of the tree need to be sealed or closed off, so that they do not take away precious energy and materials necessary for growth.

In order for a person to grow, he has to be careful not to waste his time or energy. Now, generally speaking , no one “wastes” time. But people spend their time on actions that don’t give them high return, or actions that are not necessarily in line with what is important to them in life. Even when a person realizes the importance of using his time more effectively, often, he is unwilling to give up those time-wasters; he is hesitant to part with the “low-return” activities and exchange them for high-value tasks.  In order for you to grow in the best way possible, for you to use your potential to the fullest, you need to invest your time only in those activities that bring you closer to your goal. According to Time Management specialist Michael Fortino, over an average lifetime, you will spend seven years in the bathroom. You will spend six years eating. You will spend five years waiting in lines. You will spend four years cleaning your house. You will spend three years in meetings. You will spend one year searching for things. You will spend eight months opening junk mail. You will spend six months sitting at red lights. You will spend 120 days brushing your teeth. Whether you believe Michael or not, you can see how much time slips through our fingers without our realizing it. And on the weirdest of things.

So, I believe that, yes, a man is a tree. If you can see your whole life collectively like this, you might find the internal motivation to take control of your tree, to make it bear the best possible fruit. You will be able to see the process with one collective picture in your mind.  And, you won’t need to say Tachanun, to focus on your shortcomings, because you will be focusing on the possible new you. You will be able to have the patience to cultivate your self-growth, as you celebrate your potential, even if you do not yet bear any fruit.

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