|Tu Bishvat: The Prayers of Trees|
|Written by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach ZT"L|
By Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach ZT"L on March 17th, 1980: 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 it’s 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. It’s 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.
Rabbi Mordechai Yosef Leiner of Izbica (1804-1854) was a Hasidic thinker and founder of the Izhbitzer dynasty of Hasidic Judaism. Rabbi Leiner is best known for a doctrine of radical determinism: all events, including human actions, are absolutely under God’s control, or as Rabbinic discourse would phrase it, by “hasgachah pratit.” His second most famous idea is that if everything is determined by God, then even sin is done because God determines it.
One of his most cited comments is on Leviticus 21:1 None shall defile himself for any [dead] person among his kin. Rabbi Leiner read the verse as a warning against the defilement of the soul. The soul is defiled when it is infected with the bitterness and rage that comes with senseless suffering and tragedy. Those who — like the Kohanim— would serve God, are commanded to find the resources to resist the defilements of despair and darkness. Despair is the ultimate denial of God, and surrender to darkness is the ultimate blasphemy.
First Page of Mei Hashiloach, the Commentary on the Torah by Rabbi Mordechai Yosef of Isbitza (1800-1854)