Kabbalistic Tu Bishvat Seder: Part 3

In Jewish mystical thought, the Tu Bishvat seder became a time to atone for sexual impropriety by blessing, eating and meditating on the symbolism of fruit.

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As a result of the association of the tikkunof Tu Bishvat with divine potency, an additional motive is discussed in the introduction to the Peri Eitz Hadar. It is assumed that the harmony of the relationship between Yesod and Malkhutis adversely affected by human sexual improprieties. Thus Tu Bishvat, with its emphasis on rectifying the sefirahYesod, becomes an occasion for correcting, or atoning for, the damage that was done to Yesodby impropersexual behavior. This introduces another mythic and magical element, the tendency to view nature's bounty as related to, and even dependent upon, human sexuality. However, this motive is addressed through the theurgic, contemplative focus on Yesod and devotionally, through adopting an attitude of atonement.

The pietistic element, which seems to conflict to a certain extent with the otherwise celebratory character of the seder, may be a compensation for the fact that Tu Bishvat occurs during a penitential period. This period, called Shovavim, is otherwise characterized by fasting and penitential acts. The weeks of Shovavimare explicitly connected in Hemdat Yamim with correction of "damage to the [sign of the] covenant," i.e., male ejaculation in halakhically [according to Jewish law] unacceptable circumstances (shikhvat zera le-batalah).

Atoning for Sexual Misdeeds on Tu Bishvat

It is important to note the chain of associated symbols here that must be connected. Tu Bishvat is associated with trees. The cosmic tree is nourished by the sefirah Yesod. Yesod is identified with the divine phallus. The functioning of the divine phallus which impregnates Malkhut(the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil) is affected by male sexuality. The time of year during which Tu Bishvat occurs is appropriate for atoning for male sexual misdeeds.

To sum up, the Tu Bishvat seder, which is presented in Peri Eitz Hadar, essentially views Tu Bishvat as part of a penitential season when atonement can be made for male sexual impropriety. As such the seder is a kabbalistic tikkun for the sefirah YesodAs a result of this tikkun, the fertility of the cosmic tree is enhanced. This ultimately results in nature's receiving the vitality required in order to bring forth its bounty. The tikkuninvolves three types of activity: blessing fruit, eating fruit, and meditating on the kabbalistic symbolism of the fruit. This latter activity primarily involves the contemplative study of selections from the Zoharic literature

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Rabbi Miles Krassen

Rabbi Miles Krassen, PhD., is a teacher, author, scholar in the fields of comparative mysticism and the World's Wisdom Traditions, and musician. He serves as Rabbi of Rain of Blessings, a non-profit organization for disseminating mystical Jewish teachings based on the spiritual insights of early Hasidism and Kabbalah.