Tu B’Shvat: The Journey Back to the Garden of Eden

By Rabbi Hagay Batzri

As a child of the fourth generation after the emigration from Iraq (of Iraqi origin), Tu B’Shvat was always celebrated in our family, it was honored as one of the special days in our Jewish calendar. It was celebrated with an air of mysticism and a unique feeling of illumination and enlightenment that I recall from childhood. The eating of the fruits according to the Seder in the midst of poetic prayers and piyutim, selections from the Zohar, blessings and bakashot [poetic songs supplicating Hashem] in between the four cups and the innovative insights into the Torah that were revealed in the midst of the meditative eating, that was elevating the spirit and uplifting the soul.

I remember that the friends I had in my childhood from every type and from religious families, or guests that happened to join us that night would wonder, what is this exactly, this Seder? And I wondered even more how they didn’t know and appreciate it. Today I know that I had simply originated from a diaspora culture that was a great light to all the countries of the Middle East, a culture with a great deal of wisdom, knowledge, and applied kabbalah.

So I will give to you a bit of the spiritual fruits so that you will be able to reflect upon them and to share them with others. Don’t be stingy, pass these bits of knowledge on, because our generation deeply needs this type of wisdom.

The sages of our Mishna chose to call this holiday the new year of the trees, and in this way hinted to us that actually, on a deeper level, the “tree” that is spoken of is the Tree of Life. After Adam ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, he lowered his [spiritual] level and with him, the entire world that had been made for him descended. He went down from the level of a human almost to the level of an animal, and animals went down almost to the level of vegetative life, and vegetative beings went down almost to the level of the inanimate world, and the inanimate, mineral world was stilled and dimmed so that the ground hardened and had difficulty [spontaneously] growing plants and fruits as it did in the Garden of Eden. Because of this, the result was: “by the sweat of your brow you will eat bread.”

Before the original sin, even the barren trees would give fruit, and the fruit trees of today would produce much more. The creations that Adam called the trees of the field were weakened to such a degree in their spiritual power that the weaker fruit trees are no longer seen as fit for consumption and have become barren trees.

Our opportunity is to fix the damage that was done through the eating of fruit [from the Tree of Knowledge] by eating these fruits and be elevating ourselves spiritually with the rest of Creation to the level that we were at before the original sin. We do this through the unique Seder that the sages of Kabbalah organized and prepared as a spiritual remedy for Tu B’Shvat. It is especially useful for healing the spirits of trees and for making a remembrance day, a yahrzeit of sorts, for them as we do for the souls of those who have departed. This is their New Year. And just as humans raise their level on their remembrance day from year to year, so too does the entire inanimate world, the vegetative world, the animal world that does not speak, and the living who speak elevate themselves and raise their level. Our sages, may their memory be a blessing, said that in the future in the land of Israel the barren trees will flourish and give fruit.

The holy ARI established the order of the Tu B’Shvat Seder, the essence of which is a meal of fruit that preferably should be from the land of Israel. It is said that on the table of the ARI there were 160 different types of fruit. This number parallels how the letters of the word for tree in Hebrew, “etz,” add up to 160 according to the numerical values assigned them, 70 and 90, according to the system of gematria. The 160 fruits were eaten in order to repair our image, our form, that was damaged when fruit was eaten from the Tree of Knowledge. And this is done because this is no longer a tree that we look at longingly, because it was not made for us, and we are happy with our lot, content with what we have. “Be thankful to Hashem for his grace and his wonders for human beings. “

By blessing the fruit we make the tree whole again. The word for tree “Ilan” adds up to 91 in gematria. By uniting the Names that were separated through the eating of fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. The tetragrammaton, Hashem’s four letter name of yud-hay-vav- and hay has a value of 26. Adon-ai has a value of 65. We add these values to 91, the value for “Ilan,” by saying blessings, which always contain the names of Hashem. It is a special occasion when we make these blessings next to a Jewish person who has the gematria of 91 in his name and who will respond with “Amen.” Through these meditations we repair the original sin of Adam and Eve.

It should be said that Eve was the first one who strayed and ate from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge and through that action ruined the peace in her house. For that reason, the healing of Tu B’Shvat helps to rekindle love between man and wife. It is beautiful how Tu B’Shvat corresponds to and is directly opposite Tu B’Av according to the yearly calendar and those days that parallel masculine and feminine among the months of the year. It is known that Tu B’Av is a good day to find a match. We are told that the young women of Israel would wear white clothes (so that poor and wealthy would look the same). And they would go through the vineyards to the shade of the fruit trees (to hint to the young men that they are interested in meeting someone and that they would be willing to partner with someone to bring fruit (children) and to build a family. And they would say to the young men, don’t let your eyes be drawn by beauty (because we are not here simply for pleasure). That is why the sages of kabbalah perform a special blessing and healing on these two dates for men and women who would like to marry.

Eve after she sinned and caused another to sin, tried to justify herself and say “the snake deceived me and I ate.” She wanted to say that the snake who injured with the letter dalet. This is because the word for “deceived” in Hebrew, when its letters are broken up, is the missing component letter “dalet” to create the Names of Hashem--“Shaddai” and “Adon-ai.” And that is why the word for deceived “heh’shiyani” adds up to 371 in gematria just like “more numerous than the stars 371 in evil” [in Hebrew “rabim m’kohavim 371 l’rasha” and she was banished from the Garden of Eden. Similarly there are other phrases that add up to 371 such as “the anger of Hashem” [in Hebrew “charon af Ad-nai” with Hashem’s name spelled as yuy-hay-vav and hay]. In light of this, when we will merit to be part of the healing and to unify the names of “Shaddai” “Ad-nai” will add up to 379, when we will be unified and return the Sanhedrin, the judges of ancient Israel—also 379. And it will be said about Israel [and the Jewish people] “v’yatzliakh darko” or “and His way will succeed”—also 379 (Isaiah). And then will be established “zot vatala yiru k’echad” or “and they will be seen as one”—also 379 (Isaiah). And we will be as Adam and Eve before the original sin.

And now onto the Seder of Tu B’Shvat.

Rabbi Hayim Vital z’’l, reveals to us a bit of the spiritual essence of the fruits. He writes that there are thirty types of fruit trees in the land of Israel and he divides these into three categories that correspond to the three worlds: the world of doing or work, the world of production, the world of creation. These are the worlds that make up the Tree of Life.

We start at the lowest spiritual level with the world of work and doing, which is mostly bad and a little bit good. And we drink a cup of white wine with a drop of red mixed into it. In the world of work there are ten fruits that correspond with the ten sefirot, or levels, that are within it. The world of doing, of toil and work is mostly bad for the spirit and for that reason the inside of its fruits are eaten but the peel is discarded. The peel of the fruit is like the divider that separates us from the world of delight so that it won’t be tainted with impurity. And that is the essence of the evil inclination: the peel sticks to the fruit, just as the evil inclination sticks to the soul. An example of this type of fruit is the pomegranate or walnut.

Now we move to the world of production that half of it is bad and half of it is good. And we drink a glass that has half white and half red wine.

In the world of production there are also ten fruits that correspond to the ten sefirot that are in it. The world of production is between the world of toil and the world of creation. Half of it is good and half is back, and for this reason the seeds that are in its fruit are not eaten because they are not soft like the seeds that are in the fruit of the world of creation. Examples are olives or dates.

We drink a third cup that corresponds with the world of creation. Most of the cup contains red wine, with a drop of white.

In the world of creation there are ten fruits that correspond with the ten sefirot. Because the world of creation is far from the world of impurity and near to the world of the spirit that is above it, the world that about it is said “evil shall not exist there,” only good, and everything in it is in complete unity as in the world of eternity. Similarly, the fruits in the world of creation don’t have a peel, neither inside nor outside. And, they are eaten whole. Examples are grapes or figs.

And we drink a fourth cup that is entirely red and corresponds with the world of spirit and nobility.

We have merited to live in a time that is close to that of complete redemption. We have spoken of the explanations and the unifications, on the need to unify everything spiritually, to make things whole, and on the hidden messages of the Torah. We will uplift ourselves and this entire world to receive the coming of the Mashiah. Amen.

Seder Tu bisvat - Video

Iraqi cabalistic 

Ladino cabalistic

Orit Slins with Ladino


What is Tu Bishvat

Aish Israel

Hashalom org. Rabbi Hagay Batzri

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Az Yeranen אז ירנן
Iraqi piyut by Rabenu Yosef Haim - Ben Ish Chay

אָז יְרַנֵּן עֵץ הַיְעָרִים לִפְנֵי אֵל אַדִּיר אַדִּירִים
יָעִיר זְמִירוֹת וְשִׁירִים אָשִׁיר שִׁיר חָדָשׁ
יִתְפָּאַר אֵל חַי צוּרֵנוּ וּשְׁמוֹ יִתְקַדָּשׁ

בָּרוּךְ אֵל שׁוֹכֵן עֲרָבוֹת הַבּוֹרֵא נְפָשׁוֹת רַבּוֹת
וּבָרָא אִילָנוֹת טוֹבוֹת אָשִׁיר שִׁיר חָדָשׁ
יִתְפָּאַר אֵל חַי צוּרֵנוּ וּשְׁמוֹ יִתְקַדָּשׁ

רָם אֵל בִּשְׁמֵי מְעוֹנִים בָּרוּךְ מְבָרֵךְ הַשָּׁנִים
מַצְמִיחַ עִנְּבֵי גְפָנִים אָשִׁיר שִׁיר חָדָשׁ
יִתְפָּאַר אֵל חַי צוּרֵנוּ וּשְׁמוֹ יִתְקַדָּשׁ

כַּבְּדוּ אֵל בָּאוּרִים הִגְדִּיל עֲנָפִים וּזְמִירִים
וּבָרָא זֵיתִים וּתְמָרִים אָשִׁיר שִׁיר חָדָשׁ
יִתְפָּאַר אֵל חַי צוּרֵנוּ וּשְׁמוֹ יִתְקַדָּשׁ

יִתְבָּרַךְ חַי דָּר מְעוֹנָה מַצְמִיחַ פְּרִי תְּאֵנָה
נוֹדֶה לוֹ בְּשִׁיר וּרְנָנָה אָשִׁיר שִׁיר חָדָשׁ
יִתְפָּאַר אֵל חַי צוּרֵנוּ וּשְׁמוֹ יִתְקַדָּשׁ

הַלְּלוּ אֵל חַי בִּזְמִירוֹת הַמַּגְדִּיל עַל מֵי נְהָרוֹת
רִמּוֹנִים וּמִינֵי פֵרוֹת אָשִׁיר שִׁיר חָדָשׁ
יִתְפָּאַר אֵל חַי צוּרֵנוּ וּשְׁמוֹ יִתְקַדָּשׁ

חִזְקוּ לְבָבוֹת שׁוֹבֵבוֹת שִׂמְחוּ בָּנִים עִם הָאָבוֹת
כֹּה נִזְכֶּה לְשָׁנִים רַבּוֹת אָשִׁיר שִׁיר חָדָשׁ
יִתְפָּאַר אֵל חַי צוּרֵנוּ וּשְׁמוֹ יִתְקַדָּשׁ


Tu Be'shvat  טו בשבט

Tu Bs'hvat seder