A Shvat Letter to the Women of Nitzotzos from our Mashpia, Rav Burg
Updated: Jan 19, 2021
Dear Nitztzos Commmunity,
A gutten Chodesh Shvat!
We have now left chodesh Teiveis, the darkest month of the year, for chodesh Shvat, the month of the year when light begins to increase. Shevat is the beginning of the unfolding of redemption and thus it precedes the months of Adar and Nissan, months that embody redemption (Purim and Pesach).
So what is the avodah of Shvat? How do we use our time this month to usher in the redemption of the months to come?
Every month is characterized by the Yomim Tovim that are contained within it. The Yom Tov of Tu BiShvat is the day that reveals to us the essence of the month. Tu BiShvat is the Rosh Hashana for the trees. It is the day that marks the earliest blooming of the trees in Eretz Yisrael. The passuk tells us “ki adam eitz hasadeh,” man is a tree in the field. After a long dark winter, where we have been saturated with water, we are now ready to turn our potential into actualized growth. Though any blooming is difficult to see, we know it is happening underneath the ground. Chazal teach us kol haschalos kashos, all beginnings are difficult. Shvat is the first month where growth occurs and thus it is fraught with difficulties. The moments before Mashiach comes will be some of the most difficult times in history.
The Mezritcher Maggid said, “Before Mashiach comes, there will be a repeat of the confrontation between Eliyahu HaNavi and the Neviim of Baal on Har Carmel. However, unlike that match, when a fire miraculously descended from above on to the mizbeiach of Eliiyahu HaNavi, this time the fire will descend on the side of the Neviim of Baal and that will be the greatest test of all.”
The Chozeh of Lublin said, “Before Mashiach arrives, it will be difficvult for a Yid to hold on to his emuna. He will have to struggle to remain an upstanding Yid. It will be like climbing up a straight wall, grasping it with no more than pliers.”
So how do we hold on? In the final moments of golus, as a new dawn is breaking, how do we strengthen our emunah so we can be zocheh to greet Mashaich Tzidkeinu?
Shvat is the middah of Hod. Literally this means splendor but what does that means to us? Hod is from a lashon of hodaah which means recognition. Shavt itself means a staff. There are actually two words for staff in Lashon HaKodesh, shevet and mateh. The difference between shevet and mateh is that a mateh is flexible while a shevet is unyielding. There are two types of leadership modalities (a staff represents authority). There are those who are flexible (mateh) and those who are inflexible (shevet). It is important to know when each style needs to be employed. Sometimes we need to know that we should be flexible and lose a battle in order to achieve a greater and more important victory. Other times we have to draw a line in the sand and say, thou shall not pass. At first blush it might seem that the mateh style of leadership would be the one employed by the more humble person but in truth it is the opposite. The truly humble person submits to whatever the will of God is. Being flexible is often the easier choice. As a parent our children are happiest when we let them to do things we may not ordinarily allow. Being rigid calls for a total submission to the truth of what God wants and this requires a tremendous degree of humility. The Mezritcher Maggid and the Chozeh of Lublin make it clear that in the times of Mashiach it will be difficult to submit ourselves to this truth. The world will proclaim that God is a farce (as is happening in our times). Science may even “disprove” aspects of religion. Only those who focus on humility will be zocheh to see the splendor of these times. For those who live with emunah they will recognize that this is all a part of God’s plan and they will be undeterred from fulfilling the Godly mission for which they were created.
This explains why the Zodiac of the month of Shavt is a dli, a bucket. A bucket is an instrument. It does not have its own energy. It merely contains whatever is put into it. Our avodah in this month is to recognize with humility that we are just a bucket. But as a dli we are zocheh to carry in us a Godly essence, one that is designed to fill Hashems mission in this world. No matter how difficult the conditions that surround the bucket, the bucket remains a bucket. We are the unyielding leaders (shevet) in this world and as Mashiach grows closer and closer we must strengthen our emunah so we can continue to carry out His mission in this world.
Shvat is Rosehi Teivos for Shenishma Besuros Tovos (we should hear good tidings) and Shefa Brachos Tovos (energy of good blessings). May we merit to hear the good tidings of Mashiach’s arrival and the abundant blessings that it will surely bring speedily in our days.