185 N. Mountain Ave Ashland, OR 97520 541.488.7716

San Francisco, Sivan, 5732

Tu B’Shevat Teaching

Until the month of Shvat everything is dead, because everything is happening on the inside. According to Beis Shammai, the first (Rosh Hodesh) is Rosh Hashona (New Year of Trees), and according to Beis Hillel, the fifteenth. What’s happening?

Listen to this. What’s “beitah — stuffing”? Why can’t I chew? According to the Arizal, every month corresponds to a letter of the Hebrew alphabet and to one of the twelve tribes. This month, the letter is “tsaddi” — whose letters stand for “Amha Kulom Tszddikim — Your entire nation is righteous”.

Listen to this: The holy Izhbetzer says that a Tsaddik is someone who helps you get your outside shining, who gets your outside shining into your inside. The inside– we have it already. The only thing, sadly enough, when it comes to the outside, we’ve lost the shine. An awesome Torah. It’s so deep, you know, it’s beyond words. The Tsaddik is one who gives you the vessels, that your outside should be vessels for your insides. What happens to most people?

Inside they’re a gevaldt, right? But their outside has absolutely no vessels for what they have inside. So the inside gets lost. You know what the Izhbetzer says? The moment we got out of Egypt we make Moshe Rabbeinu so much trouble. We do it all wrong. In Egypt we never did anything wrong. Why now? In Egypt, everything was “inside”. Inside, you don’t do wrong.

Listen to this. Imagine, without saying anything bad, when somebody gets divorced. After getting married or before? You know, on a joke level, someone once told me, he wants to get divorced first and then married– why should he ruin his marriage after? Ok, it’s a joke. But you know what it is? What’s marriage? Marraige is connecting your outside to the inside. Inside, it’s ok, inside I connect. The outside, mamash, day to day life. Washing negel wasser, brushing your teeth — outside. That’s what summer is all about. Summer is the inside coming outside.

Ok now listen to this. awesome, awesome. Everybody knows that this month is the fixing of the beginning of the downfall of everything. The snake tells Eve, Listen to this, deepest depths. You know what G-d told you not to eat from the Tree of Knowlege. That’s how G-d became G-d. Listen to the deepest depths. Do you know what brother snake is saying? What do you think G-d is about. He’s a famous kaballist. He took an intensive wekend in Kaballah. Do you really think G-d is anything special, something awesome. Nothing. You eat an apple. You eat a PhD in Kaballah and you have it. What is “stuffing”? No inside. Just stuff it in. Who cares, right?

Holy stuffing is the other way around. I want the inside. I want the holiest to shine into me. I don’t want the outside to interrupt from the inside. G-d should put it into me the way it really is. Ok, now here comes a really deep Izhbetzer Torah. What’s the difference between a cute little vegetable and a tree? How come a vegetable is dead when it’s done? A tree can live for hundreds of years. He says the deepest Torah. The tree prays to G-d, please make something out of me. You know what’s praying the most? And this is one of the top ten Izhbetzer Torahs. It’s good to remember.

How come one apple tree tastes so good and another one not? When the apple seed is praying before G-d the very last second before its completely disintegrated it’s the prayer of the deepest depths. And if its prayer is not so deep…There you have two trees. I mean the depths of this Torah is awesome.

Gevaldt, it’s the very last prayer we say before we leave the world… A vegetable prays a cute little prayer. A vegetable grows and then just stops… But an apple seed, it prays so much. its every second. It can’t stop. The apple seed’s prayer is a “forever” prayer. So the tree lives forever because this seed prayed so hard. Shvat is the Rosh HaShona L’Elanot, the new year– the headquarters– of the trees.

Now listen to this, it’s so deep. A vegetable when it disappears doesn’t cry. It says, “I had my day. I’m happy. I had a summer. I had a good time on the earth, saw the sun, went to the supermarket, ended up on Shabbos in the chulent… halivei (it should only be). Do you know what the tree is crying out? The tree is at is end, each year. Listen to this. The tree when it reaches the end, mamash, all its prayers are rising up again. The tree prays all its prayers again. Awesome.

I want to tell you something very very deep. Imagine I need coffee. I say, “Please G-d, give me some coffee.” And G-d answers me, “Ok, I’ll get you some coffee”. But when I pray for something very deep, my prayer is all that there is. The more I need something from G-d, the deeper the depths my prayer touches my neshama. And that prayer touches all the prayers which I ever prayed in this lifetime and perhaps other lifetimes as well… what do we know… You want the real truth. I don’t know.

You see there are two types of Torah — from the Tree of Knowlege and from the Tree of Life. The Tree of Knowlege Torah, cute… the Tree of Life Torah — beyond choice. Don’t choose. Just stuff it down. I don’t have words to explain it — it’s the deepest Torah… so deep… What is seder night all about? Seder night, G-d is mamash giving me his light. What is the deepest freedom in the whole world? You know what our problem is? We take the deepest holiest thing and we cut them short. Chew here, chew there, change it all so that it fits… What is Kadeish about — the first item in the Seder — what do we do with the cup? Everyone is chewing it down from all sides so that it fit… You want to love someone the most? Stop chewing! What is the fixing? Can you swallow it without chewing it?

Take it in, not like Esau. Esau wants to swallow up the whole world. What is winter all about? G-d is putting something in the trees beyond chewing. A tree cannot taste. Rav Tsadok haCohen tells us that during winter G-d gives us something so holy, it is beyond our vessels. Since its beyond our vessels, from Outside it looks — oy!– stupid. Reb Tsadok haCohen says winter is the highest. The only thing, I’m not enough in touch with my Inside to know what is really so bad.

You know, sometimes, between people, husband and wife, parents and children, you’re angry at each other, you yell at each other.. But when you think you are far away, that is the time when you are really the closest. Reb Nachman says that if you’re so close that you can be angry at somebody, then gevaldt, are you close! When you’re so close that you can even hate somebody, then gevaldt, are you close, right. Gevaldt you are so close. And if you’re already that close, Rebbe Nachman tells us, when you are angry at another person, at that moment G-d gives you the vessels to fix his/her soul, in the deepest, deepest way. Imagine, we are angry at our children… Gevaldt we can fix their souls forever.. gevaldt, gevaldt…

Everybody knows that the tribe of the month of Shvat is Asher. “Barukh m’banim Asher — the blessing of Asher is children. You know when a baby is born, he can’t chew. Do you know why? Chldren don’t just want a little milk from their mother at feeding time. They want their Mother to give them over their heart, their soul, everything that there is. What is Asher’s blessing? Asher had the most children. You know, sometimes you go to school and the way they teach you to be a Jew is all Chewing. It’s so stupid because they think children are so stupid. You know what? The truth is just the opposite! Asher has the blessing of children.

Asher has the vessels to stuff children. Don’t chew. When it comes to food, maybe they swallow it. When it comes to something really deep and holy, they chew it down… to nothing. And here let me tell you something awesome. You know what it means to chew? Chew it in, chew it out. Chew it again. Tree of Knowlege.

Why are Shvat and Adar the last two months of the year? Because Nisan, Pesah is already the month of Redemption, Moshiach, no chewing. When it starts to grow again, do you think people who chew so much are growing? Yeah they grow, but how much are they growing? Could you say humanity has grown unbelievably since the second World War? It hasn’t grown an inch. Right? You know it also says of Asher, “Tovl b’shemen raglav” — he immerses his feet in oil”.

What does Raglav (feet) really mean — his habits. It means Asher has no habits. His wisdom is the deepest wisdom. Everything Asher does is done with the deepest consciousness. His habit is to immerse in the Torah. Sadly enough, we do everything out of habit. And what is my biggest habit, my biggest chewing — cutting someone down from Heaven. You can even love as a habit.

Imagine I meet a girl, right, and I’m madly in love with her after one day. After a week I marry her. Ok, now it’s a habit. What happened — I chewed it down to nothing. But Asher is so deep. No habits. And listen to this. What do we do — we give over to our children our habits. Everything we do is by habit. I’m a Jew by habit, you be a Jew by habit, too. I love people out of habit, you love people out of habit, too.

I bless you, I bless myself, I bless all of Israel , this Tu B’Shvat, with the blessings of Asher, Barukh m’banim v’tovl bashemen raglov. I bless us all with the blessings of children, that we immerse ourselves, we immerse our children in the deepest depths, beyond habit.