10 Shvat 5781 / Saturday, January 23, 2021 | Torah Reading: Bo
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Blessing of the Trees    

Blessing of the Trees

On Rosh Chodesh Nissan, we begin to say Birkat Hailanot, the blessing of the trees. It's also Rebbe Nachman's birthday. What's the connection between the two?


Rebbe Nachman's birthday is the first day of Nissan. The first day of Nissan is also when we begin saying Birkat Hailanot, the blessing of the trees, which is said when one sees at least two fruit trees blossoming during the month of Nissan. A coincidence? I don't think so.
Rebbe Nachman says (see Likutei Moharan, Part One, Torah 65) that there is a field where all sorts of exquisitely beautiful trees grow. These trees are in essence holy souls. Yet there are other "trees", not so beautiful, neglected and not planted in their proper place. They anticipate the "master of the field", that special nurseryman who can "correct" them, cultivate them and replant them in their proper place.
Rebbe Nachman is in fact the "master of the field", the true tzaddik who is able of correcting the lost souls whose true beauty is yet to be apparent. He "cultivates" them and brings out their true beauty by teaching them emuna, personal holiness, Torah and prayer. He "plants" them in the right place by bringing them close to Hashem. No wonder Rebbe Nachman was born on the First of Nissan, the very first day when Halacha allows us to say the Birkat Hailanot.
The concept of trees corresponding to souls is firmly rooted in Kabbala. The holy Ariza'l teaches that the blessing of the trees has special significance. Whoever makes this blessing - especially with the proper intent - is able to redeem souls who have been re-incarnated in the plant (vegetative) realm[1], making it possible for them to ascend and complete their soul rectification. It should therefore, be said with intense concentration.
In addition, it's a good idea to follow the blessing with a donation of 3 coins to tzedaka (charity), corresponding to the three soul levels of nefesh-ruach-neshama. In brief, when the human has corrected all levels of nefesh-ruach-neshama, he or she has attained their full soul correction.
Here's something else to think about: in the world of truth, there is no such thing as ingratitude. So, if your blessing helped correct a soul (or souls) that was trapped inside a tree, that soul will forever be grateful to you.
Let's now see how to make the blessing:
When: During the month of Nissan, beginning on Rosh Chodesh, when one sees at least two fruit trees flowering for the first time. The blessing may be said on Shabbat and holidays, although some poskim disagree.
Where: Anywhere one sees at least two fruit trees flowering.
How: Say the following blessing, whichever way is comfortable for you:
In English: Blessed are You, Hashem our God, King of the Universe, who let nothing lack in His universe and created within it good creatures and good trees in order to give pleasure to human beings.
In Transliteration: Baruch ata Adonoi, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, she-lo chisar be-olamo klum v-vara vo beriyyot tovot ve-ilanot tovim lehanot bahem bnai Adam.
ברוך אתה ה' אלוקינו מלך העולם שלא חסר בעולמו כלום וברא בו בריות טובות ואילנות טובים ליהנות בהם בני אדם.
There are many wonderful stories about the power of blessing the trees. An observant Jew bought a farm on an Upper Galilee moshav from a honest individual, yet far away from Torah and emuna. The seller told the observant Jew, "I suggest that you uproot the six dunams of pear trees; plant some different variety, because the pears never made any money." The new owner couldn't conceive of uprooting the fruit trees, for that is a transgression of Torah. In truth, the pear trees looked terrible, scraggly and unsightly. That winter, he pruned them back severely. He cultivated the weed-infested rows. Then, when the First of Nissan came around, he made his annual Birkat Hailanot blessing on his pear trees, as soon as he saw two of them blossoming. In short, his pear trees yielded premium fruit that earned a premium price.
Any blessing adds blessings to our lives. And of all the blessings - Birkat Hailanot, which is said only once a year - invokes a very special blessing. Not only do we show our appreciation to Hashem for the beautiful world He gives us, but we are able to emulate the "master of the field" and to help correct souls. Rebbe Nachman teaches us that we are all potential tzaddikim; we simply must start smiling, believe in ourselves, and get to work. Happy month of Nissan, and Happy Birthday, Rebbe Nachman!


[1]    The four realms from bottom to top are mineral, plant, animal, and human.


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