For the week ending 23 January 2010 / 7 Shevat 5770

Shevat 5770 / January 2010

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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Dear Talmid,

"Rosh Hashana of the Tree"

This is how the first mishna in Masechta Rosh Hashana describes the fifteenth day of Shvat.

Why, asks the great Chassidis leader Rav Zvi Hirsh of Dinov in his classic Bnei Yissochar, does the mishna use the singular term "tree" rather than the plural form that we find used in regard to kings, documents and the other subjects listed in the same mishna?

The answer he suggests is that there is a hint here to one special tree – the esrog tree. On Tu B’shvat the life-giving sap begins the process of developing the growth of this fruit that will be used on Succos for the mitzvah of the “four species” {esrog, lulav, myrtle and willow). That day is therefore the ideal time for a Jew to pray to Heaven that he should merit acquiring an esrog of quality for the mitzvah.

The esrog, says the Midrash, offers both taste and fragrance, and thus symbolizes those Jews who possess the qualities of Torah knowledge and good deeds. The other three species lack one or both of these qualities. Since it is the wish of Heaven that all Jews develop their spirituality, we are commanded to take all four species together as a symbol of the positive influence of those Jews with extra spiritual quality upon those lacking it.

This relationship found eloquent expression in last month's highly successful "Mentors' Mission" in which tens of businessmen and professionals from North America shared their own Torah knowledge and commitment with an even number of Jewish Learning Exchange (JLE) and Shoresh students on a one-on-one basis.

One of the highlights of the Shabbos spent in Tsefas was the Bar Mitzvah ceremony for Tuvia from Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn. Every JLE trip includes a Bar Mitzvah celebration for at least one of the participants.

The JLE group was recruited by representatives of Ohr Somayach on a wide range of campuses, including Chicago, Toronto, St. Louis and Long Island. The interaction with the mentors was a tremendously moving experience for them and their mentors.

As a result a number of the JLE participants decided to spend more time in Ohr Somayach, and others made plans to come here upon completion of their studies.

Alumni Update

Recent visitors to Ohr Somayach in Jerusalem included two distinguished alumni heading kiruv centers established by Ohr Somayach which have gained worldwide recognition as leaders in the field: Rabbi Danny Kirsch heads the JLE in London and Rabbi Larry Shain the Ohr Somayach Center in Johannesburg.

Thousands of Jews of all ages benefit from the wide range of programs offered in these centers and in other Ohr Somayach branches in Canada and Australia, and many of these students continue their Torah studies at our yeshiva in Jerusalem.

Raffle - Chance to win $100,000 while supporting Ohr Somayach

Along with the world financial situation the Yeshiva’s financial situation remains extremely tight. Despite this the yeshiva is full to the brim with talmidim.

This year we are again organizing a raffle – the prize $100,000. The draw will be on February 3rd so there is still time for you to buy a ticket if you have not already done so. One ticket costs $100, 2 - $180 and 3 - $250 and you can use Maiser money.

You can buy tickets online –

Just go to the site, buy the tickets and enter “alumni email” in the reference box. Thank you very much in advance for your help.

Transcripts & Degrees

We are currently trying to update our records of the different further education institutions who have accepted Ohr Somayach Tanenbaum College transcripts or degrees. If you used an Ohr Somayach Transcript or Degree please can you email the Registrar, Rabbi Weinberger ( and let him know:

  1. To which college or university did you submit it?
  2. When? (Month and year, or at least year)
  3. To what extent was it accepted? E.g. full credit, partial credit, bachelor degree?
  4. If it was not accepted, what was the reason given?

A Final Note

The "Rosh Hashana of the Tree" also recalls the beracha that Rav Yitzchak gave to Rav Nachman (Mesechta Ta’anis 6a). Just like the fabled weary traveler blessed the tree from which he benefited that all of the trees planted from its saplings should have all of its qualities of fruit, shade and water, so too should all of Rav Nachman's offspring have his qualities, both spiritual and material.

Chazal tell us that talmidim are considered as children. The greatest blessing for your rabbeim at Ohr Somayach is seeing their virtual offspring duplicating their lifestyle and values.

May you enjoy that blessing as well in regard to your own lives and offspring in the ever-growing Ohr Somayach Family.

Rabbi Nota Schiller - Rabbi Mendel Weinbach

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