Tu Bishvat: Shem Mishmuel Part I
“The first of Shevat is the New Year for Trees according to the view of Beit Shammai. Beit Hillel says that it is on the fifteenth of Shevat.” (Mishnah Rosh HaShanah 1:1)
The Sages tell us (Sanhedrin 97a) that the world will exist for six thousand years: two thousand years of chaos, two thousand years of Torah, and two thousand years of Messianic times.
The world had to exist for two thousand years before it was mature enough to receive and utilize Torah.
There is an interesting correspondence between this and human development. The verse (Psalms, 90:10) says:”The days of our lives are seventy”, The number seven often embodies an inner expression of the six previous numbers. For example, a physical object can be described by six directions, whereas the number seven represents the essence of the object. Or, there are six days of the week on which we head towards Shabbat, the seventh day, which is an outgrowth of our achievements on those preceding days. So too, during the first sixty decades of a man’s life, he reaches forward, developing himself into what he will be in the seventh decade.
A Jew is not considered to have reached spiritual maturity until he reaches the age of twenty. He cannot be held culpable for any offense in the eyes of Heaven until he reaches that age. Therefore, just as the world needed one-third of its time to elapse before being able to receive the Torah, a person becomes an accountable adult only after one-third of his life has elapsed.
Man is a microcosm of the entire creation in space, while the year is a microcosm in time. By the first of Shevat, one-third of the year has passed. (To be continued…)