Almonds for My Einikelach!
(In honor of Tu BiShvat—and the recent vort of my granddaughter Sora Miriam [tchy”] and her choson, R’ Binyomin [n”y])
Rabbi Hillel L. Yarmove
Tu BiShvat in Eretz Yisrael is something marvelous to experience.
The almond trees have already put forth their creamy-white blossoms—and if you really keep your eyes peeled, you just might be struck by the appearance of new t’einos on the supportive branches of their respective fig trees.
And guess what? It’s not just the sap that rises in the trees at this season; human beings can feel the stirrings of new beginnings in themselves as well.
No wonder, then, that Tu BiShvat is a day dedicated to praying for shidduchim in some communities, accompanied by Kabbalistic supplications and the repeated sound of the shofar (or shall I say, shofros, for everyone who attends these convocations seems to have access to a publicly-provided shofar?).
And what is the connection between almond trees and shidduchim?
Bearing in mind that the almond tree puts forth its blossoms before the other trees, it should not be surprising that the sh’keidiyah has become a time-honored symbol of alacrity and zeal (see Rashi on Yirmiyahu 1:12).
Utterly amazing isn’t it, my dear choson and kallah?
Alacrity and zeal: two essential ingredients in the building-up and maintenance of a great Jewish marriage. You want your shidduch to blossom not just now—but for decades to come, im yirtzeh Hashem. So just as right now you might feel just the slightest bit of impatience that the “big day” is not yet here, so should you always feel an eagerness to show your “blossoms”—your utter best—to your spouse as much as possible every day of your blessed lives together—although I want you both to know that it won’t always be as easy down the line as it is now.
Never mind. That’s where the term “zeal” steps in, as it were. You want another word for zeal, maybe? Try “enthusiasm,” the etymology of which implies “incorporating G-ttlichkeit” within you. Surprised? I’m not. After all, who do you think arranged your shidduch? Why, was it not the Basheffer Himself?! Now it will be up to both of you to live up to His standards to establish and maintain a peace-filled, G-dly home.
In Eretz Yisrael, there is a minhag to attach small bags to almond trees around the time of Tu BiShvat. (See my accompanying photo.) Allegedly, each of these packets contains the name of the supplicant who is beseeching Hashem for his/her shidduch. Yes, but what if you couldn’t get to the Holy Land in time to “post your shidduch note” on an almond tree? Let us therefore imagine that there are an endless number of virtual almond trees, each festooned with dozens of bags containing requests for the right match at the proper time. And yours, my dear grandchildren, has been opened and approved. Mazel tov!
Thus, may it soon be for all the young men and women waiting their turn throughout the Jewish world. And may the alacrity and zeal which today have become your combined destiny and fate, become theirs as well—in the not-too-distant future.
Today it is your turn. With tears of joy on my face, I bestow upon you both my warmest brachah For now and forever more.
All my love, Zeidy