Tu B'Shvat

A Tree, a Spring and Offspring

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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A Tree, a Spring and Offspring by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach, Dean, Ohr Somayach

"How can I bless you when you already have everything?"

This is what Rav Yitzchak said to Rav Nachman when he asked him for a blessing.

"Shall I bless you with Torah knowledge – you are already a Torah scholar! Shall I bless you with wealth – you are already a man of great resources! Shall I bless you with children – you already have them!"

Rav Yitzchak found the solution to his problem by recalling a parable.

A man wandered in the desert – weary, hungry and thirsty. He came upon a tree with sweet fruits, a pleasant shade and a stream of water flowing beneath it. He ate from its fruits, drank from its water and relaxed in its shade. As he was about to depart, a refreshed traveler, he turned to the tree and said:

"Tree, oh tree, how can I bless you? Shall I bless you that your fruits should be sweet – they are already so! Shall I bless you with a pleasant shade – you already have it! Shall I bless you that a stream of water pass beneath you – one already does! All I can bless you with is that all the trees which are offspring of you shall be like you."

"Thus," concluded Rav Yitzchak, "I can only bless you in the same manner – that all of your offspring shall be like you."

On Tu B’Shvat, the New Year of the trees, we at Ohr Somayach like to think of ourselves as trees blessed by G-d to have offspring – our beloved students in Israel and throughout the world – like ourselves, with the same dedication to learning and spreading Torah and to insuring that their offspring will be like them.

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