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Volume 39: Number 8

Thu, 28 Jan 2021

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Subjects Discussed In This Issue:
Message: 1
From: Micha Berger
Date: Thu, 28 Jan 2021 13:18:56 -0500
[Avodah] Tu B'Shevat

I asked on Areivim about the origin of Tu biShvat as a yom tov even before
getting to questions about the Tu biShvat Seder and how kosher is the Seifer
Chemdas Yamim.

Someone emailed me this nice summary in reply. I wanted to share with the

Below is the article from after of a discussion of Tu biShvat in Chazal
as a shiur for terumos uma'aseros until they run out of history and talk
about contemporary custom.

About Chemdas Yamim... it's enough that it is a machloqes acharonim whether
the book
    (1) should be treated as Sabbatean,
    (2) is kosher because its acceptance by so many Mequbalim Qedoshim
        that is happens not to contain any of the author's Sabbatean
        heresy (R Chaim Palaggi, Turkey, 19th cent CE), or
    (2) is a holy book written by R Yisrael Yaaqov al-Gazi.

The way academia is structured, particularly what it takes to get published
and publish-or-perish there is a built in bias toward debunking things. Too
much depends on coming up with novella and their Truthiness. I am therefore
skeptical of an academic consensus that shows that the benighted masses
outside their ivory towers are wrong. Could be good scholarship, but there
are negi'os. So I wouldn't just assume their conclusions are authoritative.

(Truthiness, coined by then comedy news editorialist Stephen Colbert, to
describe the things we believe because they sound true because we would
like them to be true.)

There are numerous examples from Middle Eastern history and Biblical
Archeology I can point to, where it seems clear that out of two equally
plausible theories, the author was biased to pick the one that would
dethrone Yeishu. (Like, did the Judean intelligensia captured with
Yechaniah teach them about the idea of a messiah and messianic era,
or did we get it from Zoroastrianism? Well, saying it's not in original
Judaism devalues Oso haIsh, so...)

Even when it comes to some Torah journals, I got tired of picking through
the articles that seem so plausible until I realized I liked them because
of that feeling superiori to the benighted masses or just some clever
and very Truthy.

Anyway, here's the relevant half of the Chabad.org post, back on topic
about Tu biShvat.

Tir'u baTov!

    Who "Invented" the Holiday on 15 Shevat?
    Yehuda Shurpin

    ... Yet, neither the Mishnah nor the Talmud tell us about any special
    celebrations or commemorations associated with the day.

    Earliest Celebration

    One of the earliest sources for the 15th of Shevat being a celebratory
    day is a pair of ancient liturgical poems that were found in the
    Cairo genizah, a trove of old Torah texts, documents and manuscripts
    discovered in the 19th century. The poems, composed by Rabbi Yehuda
    Ben Hillel Halevi around the 10th century, were meant to be added
    to the prayer service of the day.[9]

    In a response to a community that wished to establish a fast day
    on the 15th Shevat, Rabbeinu Gershom (c. 960-1040) explained that
    just as one does not fast on the other days that are called "the
    beginning of the year" in the Mishnah, so too, one does not fast
    on the 15th of Shevat.[10] Additionally, we find in early sources
    that one doesn't recite penitential prayers on the 15th of Shevat,
    just as one doesn't recite them on other holidays.[11]

    Eating Fruits

    In addition to not fasting and not reciting any penitential prayers,
    there is also a custom to eat fruits on this day. The first to
    mention this custom (although it seems to have already existed in
    his day) was Rabbi Yissachar ben Mordecai ibn Susan (fl. 1539-1572)
    in his work Tikun Yissachar. This custom was popularized by the
    Kabbalists and subsequently cited in many halachic works.[12]

    The somewhat controversial Kabbalistic work of unknown authorship
    Pri Eitz Hadar (first published in Venice in 1728) was also very
    influential in spreading the custom to eat fruits on this day. The
    work includes various texts that one would recite when eating the
    different fruits. However, the common custom is not to recite these
    texts when eating fruits on the 15th of Shevat...

    [9] Eretz Yisrael, vol. 4, p. 138.

    [10] See Responsa of Rabbi Meir of Rottenbug (Prague ed.) 5.

    [11] See, for example, Maharil, Chilukei Haftorot; Shulchan Aruch,
    Orach Chaim 131:6.

    [12] See Magen Avraham, Orach Chaim 131:16; Hashlamah to Shulchan
    Aruch Harav, Orach Chaim 136:8; Mishnah Berurah 131:31.

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Message: 2
From: Prof. L. Levine
Date: Thu, 28 Jan 2021 13:44:31 +0000
[Avodah] How does Tu?bishvat impact the counting of years of

From today's OU Kosher Halacha Yomis

Q. How does Tu?bishvat impact the counting of years of orlah (prohibition of eating fruit from a tree during its first three years)?

A. The Torah states, ?When you enter the land and plant any tree for food,
you shall regard its fruit as forbidden. Three years it shall be forbidden
for you, not to be eaten.? (Vayikra 19:23) From here we learn that one may
not eat or derive benefit from fruit that grew during the first three years
of a tree?s existence. This fruit is called orlah. This prohibition applies
both in the land of Israel as well as in the diaspora. In Israel, fruit
that grows in the fourth year has a special kedusha (sanctity) known as
?neta revai?. When calculating a tree?s first three years of existence for
orlah, the years need not be complete. Rather, if a new tree grew for a
minimum of thirty days before Rosh Hashana, this is treated as the first
year of the tree's existence. It is assumed that a tree does not begin to
take root and grow until fourteen days have elapsed after planting.
Therefore, if a tree is planted on or before the 15 day of Av, which is 44
days before Rosh Hashana, the tree is co
 nsidered one year old on Rosh Hashana, and Rosh Hashanah marks the
 beginning of the tree?s second year of growth. If a tree is planted less
 than 44 days before Rosh Hashanah, one must wait until the following Rosh
 Hashanah (more than a year) to complete the first year of orlah. However,
 even after the third Rosh Hashanah marks the completion of three years,
 the fruit which blossoms in the fourth year before Tu?bishvat is treated
 as orlah as well. This is because this fruit was nourished from sap that
 the tree produced before Rosh Hashana. If fruit blossomed after Tu?bishvat
 of the fourth year, we assume that the fruit was nourished from the
 current year?s sap, and the fruit is not orlah. The Shach (YD 294:10)
 quotes the Rosh who notes that in our climate, trees don?t ordinarily
 blossom before Tu?bishvat, so one may assume that all fruit that is found
 on the tree in the fourth year is not orlah.

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Message: 3
From: Zev Sero
Date: Wed, 27 Jan 2021 23:01:57 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Tu?bishvat is the Rosh Hashanah (new year) for

As a matter of metzius, are there any fruits that, in Eretz Yisrael's 
climate, reach onas hama'asros by the middle of Shevat, so that a hard 
date is required to separate them?

I would have thought the logical place to separate the years would be in 
mid-winter when there are no fruit growing anyway, so that it doesn't 
matter whether the exact date is the 1st or the 15th.  Or is that 
actually the general case, and the exact date only matters in a freak 

Zev Sero            Wishing everyone a *healthy* and happy 5781
z...@sero.name       "May this year and its curses end
                      May a new year and its blessings begin"

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Message: 4
From: Akiva Miller
Date: Thu, 28 Jan 2021 06:35:39 -0500
Re: [Avodah] Succession Planning?

R' Joel Rich asked:

<<< Why didn?t Yeshoshua ask HKB?H (or do so himself) to appoint a
successor as his teacher Moshe Rabbeinu had done? >>>

I have often wondered the same thing about so many leaders, both Jewish and
not. The precedent set by appointing Yehoshua seems to be a no-brainer, in
my view. I am so often disheartened when I see an organization fall apart
and descend into total factionalism when its leader passes away. So much
strife could be avoided simply by grooming a successor, teaching him the
required skills, and making sure that he has the allegiance of the

Yes, this is sometimes not possible, as when there's already a significant
minority who are dissatisfied with the current leader. And other times,
there are too many qualified candidates to choose from. But all too often,
the leader doesn't even attempt to name a successor, apparently content to
let his followers fight it out among themselves when he's gone. It almost
seems like a dereliction of duty.

I'd cite examples, but that would surely spur too many bickering

Akiva Miller
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