12 Kislev 5781 / Saturday, November 28, 2020 | Torah Reading: Vayeitzei
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A Day of Rejuvenation    

A Day of Rejuvenation

Rosh Chodesh Nissan is the first day of the first month in the Hebrew calendar and a wonderful time for new beginnings. Anyone is capable of starting anew...


It’s been a rough winter, not only in Israel, but around the world. The natural dreary feeling of the year’s frosty months became even more acute as a result of natural disasters around the world, political unrest in the Arab world, and a sharp increase of terrorist activity within Israel. Yet, there’s no need to despair. Hashem gave us a special gift, a remarkable time for rejuvenation known as Rosh Chodesh Nissan, the first day of the Hebrew month of Nissan.
The very first commandment that Hashem gave to the Jews as a people was to establish Nissan Nissan as the first month of the year (see Exodus 12: 1-2). The first day of the Hebrew month of Nissan is also the date when the Mishkan – the temporary portable Temple that was used in the desert – was inaugurated. Nissan therefore has an innate quality that’s conducive to rejuvenation.
In the holy Land of Israel, springtime bursts forth in all its glory on the first of Nissan. The entire country has an intoxicating fragrance of citrus blossoms that make Chanel No. 5 seem like a washroom aerosol. On this day, we are allowed to recite the Blessing of the Trees, a very special blessing that we say once a year during the month of Nissan.
Blessing of the Trees       
Rosh Chodesh Nissan (this year: Tuesday, April 5) officially ushers in the Spring season when we may recite Birkat Ha'Ilanot, the blessing upon seeing fruit trees in bloom. This blessing is in effect a benediction on rejuvenation, whereby we praise Hashem for His magnificent renewal of creation. The blessing is as follows:
 Boruch Ata Ad-o-noy, E-lohainu, Melech Ha'olam,
sh'lo chasair b'olamo kloom,
u’bara bo briyot tovot v'ilanot tovot,
laihanot ba’hem bnai adam.

"Blessed be You, G-d, our G-d, King of the Universe,
that His world is not lacking anything,
and He created in it good creations and good trees
for the pleasure of mankind."

We recite the Blessing of the Trees only upon seeing at least two fruit-bearing trees together in bloom for the first time. The growth of leaves alone is not sufficient to allow one to say the blessing, for there must be flowers (preferably) or at least well-developed flower buds.
According to Kabbalah, this blessing has special significance. When Jews make this blessing they are able to redeem souls who have been re-incarnated and trapped in the vegetable realm[i], making it possible for them to continue or complete their tikkun (soul rectification). It should therefore, be said with intense concentration and kavanah (intention).
By helping the soul which was trapped in a tree attain its spiritual rectification and ascent, we are giving that soul a new beginning. Don’t think that anyone or anything in the spiritual realm is an ingrate; the soul from the tree that you helped correct by virtue of your blessing will forever intercede on your behalf in the Heavenly Court.
Rashi explains from a Midrash that a tree represents a tzaddik, or righteous individual. As such, we see a special common denominator between the tree we make a blessing over and the true tzaddik – both are capable of interceding in our behalf.
Rebbe Nachman’s Birthday
How amazing the Rebbe Nachman’s birthday falls on the first day of Nissan, the day of rejuvenation! In Breslever tradition, we hold Rebbe Nachman of Breslev as the true Tzaddik of the generation until Moshiach comes. We can therefore understand what Rebbe Nachman meant when he said that his fire will burn until the coming of Moshiach. Breslever Chassidim frequently try to visit Rebbe Nachman’s holy gravesite in Uman on Rosh Chodesh Nissan to mark this special day when Hashem decided to send the lofty soul of history’s greatest doctor of the soul down here to the lowly material world.
Rebbe Nachman told us that he’d make many new beginnings every day. He never got old; his constant rejuvenation kept him forever young. Rebbe Nachman also taught us that there is no despair in the world – whoever you and wherever you are, you can always declare a new beginning.
A person can be youthful at 87 or an old man or woman at 22 – it all depends on your mindset. Anyone who constantly rejuvenates never grows old. So, don’t be afraid to break old habits. Don’t be afraid of what people will say when you decide that you won’t be a sheep of conformity any more. Rejuvenate and start anew; declare a new beginning. Decide that today you’ll stop smoking or overeating. Decide that today you’ll begin devoting time slots to Torah and to personal prayer. Decide that you are a new person. May you have both eternal youth and happiness, amen.
(We invite you to visit Rabbi Lazer Brody’s award-winning daily web journal Lazer  Beams)


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[i] The four realms of souls according to Kabbalah are the mineral, vegetable, animal, and human. Souls in the lower realm yearn to move higher. By performing mitzvoth, we enable various souls to attain both a soul correction and to move higher.

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