By Udi Hammerman
Tu B'Shevat, according to Rashi, is the time when sap begins to rise in the trees. It is the point between the rains of winter and the first signs of life that blossom in spring.
But does Tu B'Shevat represent just a technical, physical process in nature, or is there a spiritual process that happens as well - that parallels what is happening below?
The Torah tells us that Moshe began to give over the book of Devarim in the eleventh month- Shevat (see Devarim 1:3-5). Devarim is the stage between the Written Torah and the Oral Torah: God speaks through Moshe, not just to him. It is our first glimpse of the Torah SheB'al Peh! Just like the trees on Tu'Beshevat, that are still receiving but begin to produce, so to do we begin in Shevat to grow from receiving to producing, as well.
Rav Tzadok HaCohen of Lublin says that on Tu Bishvat we fix the sin of Adam HaRishon. Adam was originally meant to eat from the fruits of the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge. According to Rav Tzadok, before Adam sinned, the Trees of Life and Knowledge were very same tree! Our life - our connectedness to God and our love of God, was not seperate from our knowledge- our consciousness as individuals.
But when we ate from the tree in a way that we were not supposed to, our perception changed. We now see God as separate; a being that we can choose to be close to or from Whom we can be far away. An 'Other'.
Tu B'Shevat- the stage between the earth's passive receiving and its ecstatic bursting to life, and the point between the Written Torah - the Word of God over which we have no influence, and the Oral Torah - our conversation in response to God's teaching, is the time when we harmonize the Tree of Life- our Oneness with God, and the Tree of Knowledge- our independence from God.
On Tu B'Shevat, we are One with God, but we also appreciate our individual consciousness enough to enjoy and contribute to our relationship with God, as well.