Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Arise Shine for Your Light is Come

A Bat Ayin Sunset
 Dear Friends,
We welcome some of the new friends whom I met on my North America tour to our weekly list. Once again thank you to all the wonderful hosts, organizers, advertisers, airport pick-uppers, and attendees. Without you, we would never have reached our fundraising goals.

Baruch Hashem we were able to increase our building fund with a dedication for the Art and Meditation Veranda. The dedications for the first building are almost “sold out”. Dedication opportunities remain only for panoramic and regular windows, for doors, and for the movable room divider. Respond to this email if you are interested in dedicating before it is too late. 

Our weekly parasha meditation focuses on the mitzvah to ignite the candles in the Tabernacle and on the nature of the eternal middle candle. We will visualize how every mitzvah that we do ignite our eternal candle.

Shabbat Shalom!
With Blessings of the Torah and the Land
Chana Bracha Siegelbaum

Click here to read "Purim and Unity" by Rabbi Yosef Benarroch

Parasha Meditation Tetzaveh
Shemot 27:20-30:10
Parashat Tetzaveh opens with the instruction for lighting the eternal candelabrum:
וְאַתָּה תְּצַוֶּה אֶת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְיִקְחוּ אֵלֶיךָ שֶׁמֶן זַיִת זָךְ כָּתִית לַמָּאוֹר לְהַעֲלֹת נֵר תָּמִיד: ספר שמות פרק כז:כ
“You shall command the children of Israel that they bring you pure olive oil beaten for lighting, to raise up the candle to burn eternally.”[1] Malbim explains the unusual language:”וְאַתָּה תְּצַוֶּה” –“You shall command” to imply something which must be done quickly, immediately and for all generations to come. Even when the Temple was destroyed and the candles were abolished, behold we continue to light them in the synagogues which are called a small sanctuary [2] (מקדש מעט)

The word תְּצַוֶּה has the exact same numerical value (גמטריה-gematria) as the words נשים צוה – meaning, “He commanded the women.” Therefore, the Torah verse obligating the kindling of the eternal light in the sanctuary alludes to women’s responsibility to light the Shabbat candles in the home. The numerical value of the word “beaten” in Hebrew כָּתִית – (katit) is 830. This equals the accumulative years of the two first temples. The first temple stood for 410 years, the second temple for 420 years together this adds up to 830. Scripture thus alludes to the fact that the menorah will be lit in the temples which will stand for כָּתִית years. [3] Whereas the two first temples will light for a limited period as it states כָּתִית לַמָּאוֹר – “beaten for lighting,” the third temple will remain forever, as the verse continues: לְהַעֲלֹת נֵר תָּמִיד – “to raise up the candle to burn eternally” – Its light will never be extin­guished.[4]

King Solomon’s glorious temple had special windows from which the light would emanate to the world as it states, “For the house he made windows wide without, and narrow within.”[5] Whereas, the windows of regular palaces are wide within and narrow without, in order to cause light to enter into them, the windows of the temple were opposite in order to bring forth a great light.[6] G-d created everything including the light. Therefore He does not need anyone to light for Him. Likewise, the Talmud learns from our Torah verse that we are obligated to light the candles for our own sake, rather than for G-d’s sake, as it states, “…that they bring you pure olive oil…” Hashem commands “‘אליך – for you’ but not ‘for me,’ for I do not need the light.”[7]

The word לְהַעֲלֹת (leha’alot-to raise up) is missing a vav to hint to the fact that the vav (6) candles are extinguished and rekindled, while only the middle candle lights perpetually.[8] This is also why it states, “to raise up the candle” in singular rather than “candles” in plural. G-d intended that within each part of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) there would be a testimony that His Divine presence dwells among Israel. In the Holy of Holiest the Ark gave faithful testimony that the Divine presence rested there. The Tablets contained within it could be read from both sides, with the mem and samech miraculously not falling out. In the Tent of Meeting, Hashem’s light shone from the eternal middle candle. Everyone would look at it, and see the name of Hashem, dwelling within them.[9] This candle is similar to the Ark, since they both witness G-d’s presence. Two witnesses are required as it states “according to the testimony of two…”[10]

The candle, which symbolizes the words of Torah, is considered guide to life, safeguarding us from stumbling. Whoever performs a mitzvah sustains his soul, and is considered as if he lit a candle before G-d as it states: אָדָם נֵר הַשֵם נִשְׁמַת – A candle of G-d is the soul of man.[11] The benefit of the candle is that it purifies the soul. [12] Candles differ from any material good in this world, which becomes reduced when shared with others. Yet, from one candle you can kindle 1000 candles without diminishing the light of the original candle. In the same way, through fulfilling a mitzvah even if it seemingly comprise expense and effort, we do not get depleted but rather recharged with renewed spiritual energy.

Sit comfortably in your chair and close your eyes. Take several deep breaths and imagine you are an unlit candle. Get in touch with the yearning to become lit. Let your mind travel back to search for mitzvot (Torah commandments) you performed. It could be visiting the sick, dancing vigorously at a wedding, rejoicing with the bride, keeping the dietary laws scrupulously, giving tzedaka (charity) etc. Focus in on one of the mitzvot that you especially performed with your entire heart. Visualize how this mitzvah acts like a spark that ignites your wick, and imagine how you begin to glow with bright orange light. Your flame grows stronger and your whole body becomes enlightened. Feel yourself radiating this warm light, as you slowly inhale and exhale. Inhale as you visualize the word נֵר – candle, exhale as you visualize the word תָּמִיד – eternal. G-d’s candle burns perpetually within your soul. Keep repeating the breathing, visualizing the word נֵר on the in-breath, and the word תָּמִיד on the outbreath for eight times.[13]

Your light is like the brightness of wisdom driving away the darkness of ignorance. You are the bright radiant light. Feel yourself pulsating, expanding, your light shining forth further and further until it illuminates your entire house. Allow your inner flame to reach out even further until it fills your whole neighborhood. Your neighborhood is illuminated by your glowing light. Imagine your candle traveling even further out to your entire country and still further to encompass the whole universe. You fill the entire world with your light, illuminating every space to break through any darkness and blockage within the world and yourself. Continue glowing with this orange light in all directions, eradicating darkness from without and within.

Why is the commandment to light the menorah placed before all the vessels of the Mishkan?

The kindling of the candelabrum is the only Temple service described in the book of Shemot. Only the vessels of the Mishkan and their places are delineated here. The mitzvah to light the menorah precedes the rest of the worship of the Mishkan described in the book of Vayikra, because kindling the candles is the purpose of the entire Temple worship. Igniting the candelabrum symbolizes the elevation of the soul towards the Divine light by keeping the mitzvot of the Torah.[14] The soul of humanity is compared to light [15] the Torah is compared to light: “For a candle is a Mitzvah and the Torah is light.”[16] Israel will become the light of the world: “Nations will walk in your light.”[17] G-d is the light of the individual: “G-d is my light and my salvation,”[18] and He is the light of Israel: “Arise shine for your light is come.”[19]

[1] Shemot 27:20
[2] Midrash Hagadol, Vayikra 6:3
[3] Ba’al HaTurim, Shemot 27:20
[4] Toldot Yitzchak, Shemot 27:20
[5] I Kings 6:4
[6] Vayikra Rabah 31:7
[7] Ba’al HaTurim quoting Babylonian Talmud, Menachot 86b
ויקחו אליך שמן זית זך" אמר רבי שמואל בר נחמני אליך ולא לי לא לאורה אני צריך "
[8] Ba’al Haturim, Shemot 27:20
[9] Kli Yakar, ibid.
[10] Devarim 17:6, Babylonian Talmud, Sota 31:2
[11] Mishlei 20:27
[12]Shemot Rabah 36:3
[13] Number eight symbolizes eternity, see Maharal, Ner Mitzvah, p. 23
[14] Nechama Leibowitz on Shemot 27:20
[15] See Mishlei 20:27 quoted above before footnote 10
[16] Ibid. 6:23 כִּי נֵר מִצְוָה וְתוֹרָה אוֹר
[17] Yesha’yahu 60:3 וְהָלְכוּ גוֹיִם לְאוֹרֵךְ
[18] Tehillim 27:1 יְדֹוָד אוֹרִי וְיִשְׁעִי
[19] Yesha’yahu 60:1 קוּמִי אוֹרִי כִּי בָא אוֹרֵךְ

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Mishkan: A Spiritual Healing Structure

Dear Friends,
This year has been a most amazing North American tour, Baruch Hashem, it was so special reconnecting with alumnae, friends and supports and meeting many new people as well. You all contributed to making my tour so special and successful. Thank you all for your kindness and generosity. Thank you the organizers of my events, for dealing with all the difficult logistics… Thank you to the hosts who opened your homes to me and made me feel so comfortable and supported. Thank you to the sponsors and donors who gave so generously to Holistic Torah for Women on the Land. Thank you to all the hundreds of women who drove from far and near to learn with me. I hope to be able to host you all in Israel soon! 

I’m happy to be back home for Rosh Chodesh Adar, the time to increase in simcha (happiness). Wishing you a wonderful Chodesh Tov! 
May you actualize your inner simcha and overflow with joy inside and out!

Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov!
With Blessings of the Torah and the Land!
Chana Bracha Siegelbaum

Parasha Meditation Terumah
Shemot 25:1-27:19
This week’s parasha opens with Hashem’s request to donate the materials needed for the Mishkan (tabernacle) – a place set aside for meetings between Hashem and the Jewish people. Hashem tells Moshe, “Speak to the children of Israel that they take me an offering: of every man whose heart prompts him to give you shall take my offering.[1] It doesn’t say “bring me and offering” but rather “take me.” From here we learn that whoever donates for the sake of Hashem, actually gets to “take Hashem” – receives a greater closeness to Hashem.[2]

“Let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.”[3] It didn’t state, “that I may dwell within it” because the Divine presence does not dwell in the sanctuary for the sake of the sanctuary, but for the sake of Israel. We are the sanctuary of G-d.[4] The mikdash (sanctuary) brings us so close to Hashem that all feel Him “within us.”

While one’s entire being enjoys the smell of spices, it is absorbed through a small part of the body. Likewise, Hashem is everywhere, but He communicates through the mikdash. Like electricity, G-d’s presence is everywhere, yet for us to hook up with it, we need to channel it. The same way that one must channel electricity into a circuit in order to produce light. The mikdash is the circuit which channels the Light of the world. Our discovering the Divine Presence in the mikdash verifies that Hashem dwells among us. Through the realization of G-d’s presence, we become the circuit which reveals Divinity in the world. By directing ourselves to the mishkan, we become the mishkan.[5]

We know that all the mitzvot of the Torah are eternal, so how is it possible to fulfill the mitzvah of building the mikdash today? A person is like a mini-cosmos. Therefore, the command “make me a sanctuary” means that we all are charged to perpetually make a sanctuary in our heart, in order to prepare a place for the Divine presence to dwell. When G-d dwells in the heart and soul of every one of us, the continuation of the verse: “that I may dwell among them” is fulfilled.[6]

It’s easy to say, let’s make a sanctuary for Hashem in our heart. To actually do it, we need to mediate and really focus on opening ourselves to let Hashem in. When we have fears, we unconsciously close the energy fields without allowing Hashem’s light into our heart. We have lived for thousands of years with three primal fears. They come from the collective unconscious. They are both personal and collective. Each of the exiles by which the Jewish people have been traumatized, left a different spiritual scar in our souls. The sanctuary is to be constructed in a prophetic Divine fashion to undo and overcome all of our archetypal fears. Each of the three parts of the mishkan: The courtyard, the Tent of Meeting, and the Holy of Holiest exuded the healing power to overcome each of the three primal fears.

Hashem tells Moshe “This is the offering which you shall take from them; gold, silver and copper.”[7] These three materials have the ability to respectively overcome our fears. The Holy Ark placed in the holy of holiest was covered with gold, and its cover with the cherubs was made of pure gold.[8] This gold has the power to heal the lowest part of our body, connected with the fear of being raped – of not being in control. The sockets of the tent of meeting were made of silver.[9] This silver has the power to heal the middle part of our body – the heart area, connected with the fear of death – of being overwhelmed. The sockets of the courtyard were made from copper.[10] This copper has the power to heal our upper part – the head, connected with the fear of losing our mind – of not being good enough. The mishkan was thus a spiritual healing structure. When it was erected Hashem’s light shining through the channels of gold, silver and copper respectively would enter our entire being – “dwell within you” – and heal us.

Sit comfortable in your chair, close your eyes. Take deep breaths several times and let go of anything you are may be holding on to. Try to connect with the light of Hashem which always comes down from Above. Visualize the light entering from the Keter (crown). Our body is continually filled with Hashem’s light and love even when we don’t see it or feel it.

Imagine Hashem’s light in the shade of copper surrounding and filling you head. Imagine your entire head, neck and throat glowing with the beautiful light of copper. Now this light is cascading down your shoulders becoming pure and silvery as it fills your torso, chest and lungs. Imagine it shimmering into your heart exuding its silvery glow with every beat. Allow the light to emanate from your heart down to your stomach, and your entire pelvis as it turns to gold.

Breathe the golden light into your small intestines, your colon, ovaries, tubes, womb, and private place. Allow the golden light to enter your liver in the left side, and your spleen on the right. Cleanse your bean-shaped kidneys in the back with this shimmering golden light. Let the light enter your thighs, knees, calves and feet, and imagine your entire self completely enlightened.

Visualize how your entire being is exuding light outwardly. Your pelvis/lower part is shining gold; your torso and middle part pure silver, and from your throat upwards including your entire head with the mouth, nose, eyes and ears is shimmering copper with a copper crown surrounding your head.

If you are able to, imagine a golden triangle its middle point from your inner fountain with a line to the right thigh and another to your left thigh. Imagine Hashem’s light filling this golden triangle. Now imagine another triangle perpendicular to the first to form the shape of a Magen David. Its middle point is below the bellybutton with a line to your right and left thigh. Breathe into this Magen David and imagine Hashem’s light protecting you from any fears in your pelvis.

If you are unable to imagine the Magen David in this particular way, just imagine a golden Magen David any place on your pelvis.

Move your mind’s eye to your heart area. Imagine it as the middle point of a new triangle of silver with a line to both your right and left shoulder-bone. Imagine Hashem’s light filling this silver triangle. Now imagine another triangle perpendicular to the first to form the shape of a Magen David. Its middle point is below the throat with a line to your right and left shoulder-bone. Breathe into this Magen David and imagine Hashem’s light protecting you from any fears in your torso. Again, if this exercise is hard, just imagine any size silver Magen David in your heart region. It could be imagining wearing a silver Magen David necklace.

Now move your mind’s eye to our head. Imagine the middle point of a new triangle of copper on top of your head in the middle. It has a line to both your right and left temple. Imagine Hashem’s light filling this copper triangle. Now imagine another triangle perpendicular to the first to form the shape of a Magen David. Its middle point is above the throat with a line to your right and left temple. Breathe into this Magen David and imagine Hashem’s light protecting you from any fears in your head region. In the middle of this Magen David imagine Hashem’s four lettered name flashing in your mind’s eye, sending love and compassion. If this is difficult to imagine, you may imagine any kind of copper Magen David on your head, face, or neck.

Now try to imagine all the three Magen Davids simultaneously flashing to the beat of your heart and feel how your entire being is being illuminated by Hashem’s life-giving protective light.

Try to feel the presence of the person sitting at your right. Where does she need protection most? Imagine sending Hashem’s light and love in the shape of one of your Magen Davids to her. Use your intuition to choose whether to send her gold, silver or copper. Keep sending her Hashem’s light exuding from your chosen Star of David. Now focus your attention to the person at your left. Open yourself to receive the Magen David she is sending you. Allow it to enter the part of you which needs its protective glow the most. Keep receiving until you feel filled. After a few minutes, take a few deep breaths; release your arms and legs before opening your eyes.

This meditation is part of the EmunaHealing class I gave this year on my annual North America tour, from which I just returned. I will be offering a weekly 5 part EmunaHealing course after Pesach in my home (Sunday nights from 7-9 PM starting April 22) and via the internet for those who live abroad. You can read more about this system of healing on my blog
Please email for more information registration.

[1] Shemot 25:1-2
Degel Machane Efraim, Parashat Teruma
Shemot 25:8
Tzeida Le’ derech, Parashat Teruma
Ohr Rashaz, Parashat Teruma
Rabbi Ya’acov Yosef, Parashat Teruma
Shemot 25:3
Shemot 25:11-22
Shemot 26:18-32
Shemot 27:11-19

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bricks of Shiny Sapphires

Tu B'Shevat Seder at B'erot
I’m writing to you from some place far away from home, on the run, from the skies, spreading the light of the Land of Israel. This week’s parasha meditation is about how to turn the brickwork of our pain and suffering into the most brilliant shiny sapphires – lucid like the heavens. I pray that Hashem will turn the pain of my homesickness into bright glowing words of Torah inspiring everyone who come to learn from me.

Shabbat Shalom!
With Blessings of the Torah and the Land,

Chana Bracha Siegelbaum 

Read Rebbetzin's Commentary on Haftorat Mishpatim - "Overcoming Negative Patterns and Addictions"

Parasha Meditation Mishpatim
Shemot 21:1-24:18
This week’s parasha contains one of the strangest “visions” of Hashem in the Torah. When Moshe, Aharon, Nadav and Avihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel ascended the mountain they saw G-d and sapphire brickwork under His “feet”.[1]
וַיִּרְאוּ אֵת אֱלֹהֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְתַחַת רַגְלָיו כְּמַעֲשֵׂה לִבְנַת הַסַּפִּיר וּכְעֶצֶם הַשָּׁמַיִם לָטֹהַר  - ספר שמות פרק כד:י
“They saw the G-d of Israel; and under His feet was like sapphire brick-work and the likeness of shamayim (the heavens) for clearness…”[2] The following verse describes how G-d “did not lay his hand on the Nobles of Israel, [although they beheld G-d, while eating and drinking.”[3] These two Torah verses, juxtaposes the seemingly mundane (bricks, eating and drinking) with a description of “seeing” Hashem. Although even the “mundane” must be sanctified, and as I’m teaching during my current North America tour ( that eating and drinking can be a deep way of connecting to Hashem. Yet, as Rashi explains, “They deserved that G-d should stretch forth His hand against them, because they gazed at G-d intimately as [though their association with Him was] a matter of eating and drinking.”[4]

Let us try to understand the vision of these beautiful “sapphire bricks” in Hashem’s presence, “below His feet”. According to Rashi, the vision of a serene image of Hashem becomes a stark reminder of the harshest realities of Jewish suffering in the world. He explains that Hashem, had placed the bricks before Him during the slavery in Mitzrayim (Egypt), to remember the sufferings of Israel.[5] Although it is comforting to know that G-d feels our pain, there is no escaping the reality of suffering in this vision. The vision reminds us that we do not connect to Hashem by losing touch with reality – even the most painful reality, of this world. Rather those very experiences are themselves “before Him,” and we can approach G-d through our pain and weaknesses.

Yet, this brickwork being a stark reminder of Mitzrayim is only half the story. The brickwork itself is shining and clear like the heavens! Why is this brick so beautiful? Rashi explains that when the Jews were redeemed from Egypt, there was joy and light before Him.[6] This very brickwork, which had been dark, coarse and a source of suffering (both for us and for Hashem) itself began to shine a brilliant light – to radiate joy. This is so important. This is salvation.

Sit comfortable with your back straight and close your eyes. Take several deep breaths and clear your mind. Do an internal body-scan and get in touch with any pain you may hold, in any part of yourself. As you continue breathing slowly, get in touch with this pain and try to sense the root of your pain. Perhaps a headache could be caused by stress, a stomach pain by not feeling appreciated etc. The first step before turning to Hashem for help is to first realize that you are in pain, that there is a lack – an emptiness inside. The second step is to recognize that you cannot save yourself from this place. No slave ever escaped Egypt. Get in touch with your smallness and your helplessness! The third step is to feel how Hashem’s presence is with you in your pain. Keep breathing as you open yourself to feel how even and especially within your deepest pain, Hashem’s light is right there. Now ask Hashem to remove your pain and its deepest root. Imagine your hurt being uprooted like a tree, as Hashem’s light fills it with His glorious presence, and the pain gets lifted away. Now, get in touch with your feelings in this place, do you feel lighter, relieved? In case you still feel the pain, repeat visualizing Hashem’s light inside of your pain, uprooting it – removing it. It may take repeated tries several times, as our pain contains multiple layers.

Now imagine the shining brilliant brickwork of sapphire, with sparkling blue colors lucid like the heavens in purity on a bright clear day. Try to hold this vision for five slow breaths or more. Get in touch with the joy of the brilliant sapphire imagery. Allow this joy penetrate your entire being. Delight in the beauty that you behold. It is the beauty of bringing Hashem into every aspect of your life. Slowly tap your feet on the ground and when you are ready open your eyes.

The sapphire brickwork was made from Israel’s suffering. Only Hashem knows the secret of how to make our enslavement beautiful. He can transform– that very brick – that very point of pain – the source of the pain itself, to become a source of joy and light. He grants us joy to keep going, to live more fully. He endows us with light to see more clearly in the future – to see the sparks hidden in the lowest places – to see how G-d is really in our lives – in every aspect of it. He teaches us to see that we needed to go through all the painful places, that they were truly, in a hidden way, sources of light and joy in our lives.

When we try to save ourselves, the best we can do is to make the brick go away – by forgetting, by filling in the emptiness with something fake. In the end, the awareness comes back, and we can choose again whether to forget or try to open up to Hashem, and trust that He can save us in the deepest way. The bricks of Egypt, the place of tumah – (impurity), become the building material for the Beit HaMikdash – (Temple), the place of joy. The brick becomes “like Shamayim for Tohar.” According to Rashi, “Tohar means barur (clarified) and lucid.” Clarification is a slow process, the struggle of a life’s journey. Yet this is the only way to find the joy that is not merely in spite of tears, but because of them.

May Hashem reveal to us the joy within all of our tears soon in our days!

[1] Adapted from “A Vision of G-d's Bricks” (5759) by David H. from Yeshivat Bat Ayin
Shemot 24:10
Ibid. 24:11
Rashi ad loco
Ibid. 24:10

Monday, February 6, 2012

Tu’bShevat – The Holiday of Redemption

Rebbetzin is currently touring North America! 
See if you can make one of her events....

Click here to read the Midreshet B'erot Bat Ayin Tu B'Shevat Newsletter
The Seven Fruits of Israel
Your own Tu B'Shevat Seder Kit!
Exerts from Rebbetzin Chana Bracha's new book and an opportunity to make a dedication
My Soul Connection: Eretz Israel
Resloving the Ambiguity at the Heart of Bal Tashchit    And more....

Tu’bShevat – The Holiday of Redemption

Tu’bShvat – An Occasion to Connect with the Land of Israel
TubShvat is a celebration of the relationship between Hashem and His people as expressed by the blessings bestowed on the Holy Land. If you seek to heighten the spirituality of your life by deepening your bonds with Eretz Yisrael, this holiday assumes major importance. When we bless and enjoy the fruits during the Tu’bShvat Seder, keep in mind that the fruits of the Land of Israel herald the redemption as we learn from the prophets. “But you, mountains of Israel shall give forth your branches and yield your fruit to My people, Israel; for soon they will come.” (Ezekiel 36:8). Based on this verse, the Talmud (Sanhedrin 98a) reveals that there is no more revealed sign of the end of days, as when the land of Israel will produce fruits in abundance.

Between Tu’bShvat and Passover
The Passover Seder celebrates the past redemption of the Jewish People from Egypt and anticipates our future redemption and return to the Land of Israel. The Tu’bShvat Seder celebrates our yearning to return to the land of Israel which is the entryway to the Garden of Eden, and anticipates the redemption of all humanity when we will eat – this time – fruit from the Tree of Life.

Whereas keeping the Passover Seder is halacha, (Jewish obligation), the Tu’bShvat Seder is not obligatory but rather a minhag (custom). Halachic sources mention that it is a custom to enjoy an abundance of different fruits on Tu’bShvat. (Mishna Berura Siman 131, Seif 31, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Siman 139). In the past few decades, making a fruit Seder has become widespread among Jews across the world. Since the order and the contents of the Seder do not follow specific Jewish law, there is much room for flexibility and creativity for each of you to conduct the Seder in your own way.

The Origin of the Tu’bShvat Seder
The Tu’bShvat Seder somewhat similar to the Seder for Passover, was compiled by the students of the Holy Arizal, Rabbi Isaac Luria in the 16th century, Tzefat. It involves appreciating the fruits of the tree, particularly those native to the Land of Israel. The Tu’bShvat Seder is based primarily on the Kabbalistic work, “Chemdat haYamim,” later published separately under the title “Pri Etz Hadar”.

The Correspondence of the Fruits to the Three Worlds according to Kabbalah
The fruits of the Tu’bShvat Seder are divided into four groups corresponding to The Four Worlds that link the upper and lower reality. Each sequence of fruit culminates with a cup of wine. As on Passover, the wine is poured before the text is read and drunk afterwards. White wine symbolizes the refined ethereal upper world, whereas red wine represents our coarse material lower world of action. During the Tu’bShvat Seder we spiral downward from the highest world of Emanation beyond any physical manifestation, through the world of Creation and Formation, ultimately landing in our physical world of Action.

1. There are no fruits that correspond to the World of Emanation, which is beyond physical manifestation due to its total spirituality. However, for this category, we have chosen the seven kinds of fruits by which the Land of Israel is praised, since these fruits take precedence according to the laws of blessings as will be explained.

2. Wholly edible fruits correspond to the World of Creation.

3. Fruits that are wholly edible except for their pits correspond to the World of Formation.

4. Fruits that have wholly inedible shells correspond to the World of Action.

Practical Guidelines for Conducting a Tu’bShvat Seder
Before each fruit is eaten a portion of the Bible or Oral law is learned. If possible try to find thirty kinds of fruit corresponding to The Ten Sefirot in each of the three lower worlds. If it is impossible to get hold of thirty species, try to eat at least twelve.

NOTE. A fruit that is lacking may have another substituted for it, preferably from the same category.

Laws and Order of Blessings
It is our G-d given opportunity to rectify and unify the upper forces and worlds through the power of blessings and prayer. The blessings on mitzvot and pleasures draw down celestial abundance, whereas, blessings in prayer are meant to rectify the worlds themselves, by elevating them and connecting each one with the world above it. This way they receive the Holy influence of the upper light as well as draw down and increase the Holiness of the light within them. (Based on Rabbi Chaim M’Volozyn, Nefesh Hachaim 2:3-4 and 14).

Whenever blessing our food, the blessing of the products of wheat precedes the rest of the blessings. Therefore we begin the Seder by blessing Borei Minei Mezonot on the wheat cracker or cake. When blessing on wheat, have in mind to include all other grains as well.

The first blessing recited on the fruits of the tree includes all other fruits on the table. The Torah mentions seven kinds of fruits in praise of the Land of Israel. (Deuteronomy 8:8). These seven kinds are wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. When we eat different kinds of fruits, the seven special kinds should precede all other fruits. (Mishna Berura Siman 168). The order of blessing within these seven kinds is according to their proximity to the word “Land” in the Bible verse. (Mishna Berura Siman 210). Consequently we bless Bore Peri Haetz on the olive and have in mind to include with this blessing all the other fruits of the tree throughout the Seder. Whenever you make a blessing hold the fruit in your right hand!

New Fruits from the Land
Try to include in the Tu’bShvat Seder as many fruits as possible grown in the Land of Israel, in order to connect yourself to the Holy Land on this day. (Make sure the fruits have been grown, and tithed according to the Laws of the Land). It is also recommended to include a fruit never eaten yet this year, in order to recite the special blessing Shehecheyanu for eating a new fruit for the first time in the season. After the Seder is completed, make sure to recite the after-blessings for cake, wine, and fruit.

Tikkun (Rectifivation) via Eating
During the Tu’bShvat Seder we have the opportunity to rectify eating from the Tree of Knowledge – the root of all sin and eating disorders. When the sin of the Tree of Knowledge corrupted the world, sparks of holiness fell into their husks, and the pure became combined with the impure. Today, every fruit includes a part of both the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life, which is its antidote. Words of Torah, blessings and proper intentions enable us to raise the fallen sparks within the food and bring them back to their source in the Garden of Eden. Contemplating the marvel of the gift of Divine fruits can teach us many lessons about G-d, life and ourselves. Let us eat like the righteous and take each bite from the Tree of Life!