The name of the Chodesh Shvat has been passed down to us as being Roshei Teivos - the acronym, of 'Shenisbaser Besuros Tovos' - a blessing that we should merit being informed of good tidings. Needless to say, we always appreciate having a positive outlook. However, where can we connect specifically this concept of 'Besuros Tovos' with Chodesh Shvat?Back to Neveh Homepage
Let us begin with something that we discussed just a few weeks ago. The Tur teaches us in the beginning of Hilchos Rosh Chodesh that just as the three 'Regolim' correspond to the three 'Avos,' each of the twelve Roshei Chodoshim (which were meant to be Yomim Tovim had the Jews not sinned with the Golden Calf), correspond to the twelve 'shevotim' (tribes). The Meforshim question exactly what is the order of the correspondence of the 'shevotim.' The Arizal and the Gro ZL conclude that the order is that of the 'Nesiim,' (the princes of each tribe) as they brought the sacrifices of the 'Chanukas Hamizbeach' (the inauguration of the altar) and the way they traveled the wilderness in the formation of the 'Degolim.' This would mean that the month of Nissan would correspond to Yehudah, Iyar to Zevulun, Sivan to Yissochor and (See Bamidbar 2 & 7) and consequently Shvat to Asher. Let us try to delve into this connection of Shvat to Asher.
The Mishna at the beginning of Maseches Rosh Hashana teaches that there is a disagreement between Beis Hillel and Beis Shamai as to when is the 'Rosh Hashana' of 'Ilanos' -trees. Beis Shamai hold that Rosh Chodesh Shvat is the 'Rosh Hashana Lailanos' whilst Beis Hillel is of the opinion that it is on 'Tu B'Shvat" - the fifteenth day of Shvat. It is interesting to note that we find in the Yalkut Shimoni that there was something very special about the portion of Eretz Yisroel that fell to Asher. It is well known that every seventh year is 'Shemitta,' when it is forbidden to work the land. Consequently, this causes difficulty to produce crops. However, trees that stand from year to year, and are able to produce their fruit on their own, take on much greater importance in the seventh year. It seems that Asher's lot was blessed with many trees that all of Klal Yisroel made use of. How fitting then that the month of Shvat which contains the 'Rosh Hashana Lailanos' corresponds to Asher who was blessed with bounty as far as trees are concerned!
One of the main personages of the tribe of Asher was his daughter Serach, better known as Serach bas Asher. (It is interesting to note that Serach bas Asher is one of the people listed in Maseches Derech Eretz Zutah that went in alive to Gan Eden.) The Medrash teaches that she was unique in that she was the one that informed Yaakov Ovinu that Yoseif was still alive - 'Od Yoseif Chai.' We see too that when the time came for Bnei Yisroel to leave Mitzrayim, they wanted to know if Moshe was indeed the true 'Goeil' - redeemer. They turned to Serach bas Asher who knew the secret of the 'Geulah' - redemption, being the words 'Pakod Pokadti' and she verified the authenticity of Moshe Rabeinu (See Tosafos Sotah 13a in the name of the Pirkei D'Reb Eliezer). (She also inevitably informed Moshe where Yosef was buried when it came time to actually leave Mitzrayim.) Certainly, she seems to have had this characteristic of being a 'Mevaser Besuros Tovos,' - a bearer of good tidings, fitting in with the connection of Asher to Shvat.
It is quite simple to connect the idea of Rosh Hashana Lailanos to the concept of 'Besuros Tovos.' Tu B'Shvat is the cut off point as far as the yearly obligation of Terumos and Maasros - tithes, is concerned. Any fruit that undergoes 'chanata,' - the first stage of the growth of the fruit, before Tu B'Shvat, falls under the obligation of the previous year while the fruit that undergoes 'chanata' after Tu B'Shvat are obligated in the year to come. The Ritva in Rosh Hashana 12b explains that by Tu B'Shvat, the fruit has received all the nurturing it needs to reach its potential. From hereon in it continues to grow on its own. The 'chanata' is for all intensive purposes a 'besurah tovah' that the full potential of the fruit is on its way.
The Sefer Yetzirah teaches us that every month has one letter of the Aleph - Beis to which it has particular relevance. The letter that corresponds to the month of Shvat is the 'Tzadi,' better known to us as 'Tzadik.' We find in various places in Chazal discussion, regarding letters that are called as a unit 'Menatzpach.' This unit consists of the letters that are used specifically to end words; namely the letters 'Mem Sofit,' 'Nun Sofit,' Tzadi Sofit,' 'Pei Sofit,' and 'Chof Sofit.' The Pirkei D'reb Eliezer (Chapter 47) says that these are the letters of 'Geulah' - redemption. Maharal explains that these letters represent the 'Geulah' which comes at the end of time being that they come at then end of the word. The Medrash explains that the 'Chof' was the letter through which Avrohom Ovinu was redeemed from 'Uhr Kasdim.' The 'Mem' is the letter through which Yitzchok Ovinu was redeemed from the Pelishtim. The 'Nun' is the letter through which Yaakov Ovinu was redeemed from Eisav. The 'Pei' is well known as the letter that Moshe Rabeinu came to redeem Bnei Yisroel from Mitzrayim when he came and told them in the name of Hashem, "Pokod Pokadti." The Medrash concludes that the letter through which the 'Geulah' we are waiting for will be the 'Tzadi' as the Posuk states (Zechariah 6,12) that the name of he that will redeem us will be 'Tzemach,' which begins with a 'Tzadi.' Indeed we beseech Hashem every day that 'Es Tzemach Dovid Avdecho Tatzmiach.' We see then that the 'geulah' that we are so desperately waiting for will also come in the form of a 'Tzemach,' - a plant which will evolve into a tree of redemption. Hakadosh Boruch Hu, we proclaim daily, is 'Matzmiach Yeshuos!' Certainly, the groundwork for the 'yeshuah' has been laid. Now it's just a question of the redemption coming forth to its potential maximum. Let us hope that this during this month of Shvat we will see the fulfillment of this acronym, 'Shenisbaser Besuros Tovos,' and specifically the greatest tiding of them all - of the coming of Moshiach and the building of the Beis Hamikdosh!
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