On Tu Bi’Shevat we celebrate the New Year of Trees. Our holy scriptures compare the human being to a tree. “The human being is like the tree of the field” (Parashat Shoftim, D’varim 20:19). “You shall be like a tree planted by the water, bringing forth fruit in its season” (Tehillim 1:3). “He shall be like a tree planted by the waters, sending forth its roots by the stream” (Jeremiah 17:8). Rashi said, “Every person is a tree.” This meditation reflects these Biblical teachings and celebrates the holiday of Tu Bi’Shevat. This meditation can also be used as a way to study The Five Books of Moses, and the foundation of all of Jewish life and lore. The Torah is considered the heart and soul of the Jewish people, and study of the Torah is a high mitzvah. The Torah itself a scroll that is hand lettered on parchment, elaborately dressed and decorated, and stored in a decorative ark. It is chanted aloud on Mondays, Thursdays, and Shabbat, according to a yearly cycle. Sometimes "Torah" is used as a colloquial term for Jewish learning and narrative in general. on the Shabbat is the Sabbath day, the Day of Rest, and is observed from Friday night through Saturday night. Is set aside from the rest of the week both in honor of the fact that God rested on the seventh day after creating the world. On Shabbat, many Jews observe prohibitions from various activities designated as work. Shabbat is traditionally observed with festive meals, wine, challah, prayers, the reading and studying of Torah, conjugal relations, family time, and time with friends. when Parasha Shoftim falls.
Sit quietly. Relax. Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling slowly. As you inhale, imagine that you are breathing in waves of healing energy. Feel these waves flow through your entire body. Feel this energy embrace your soul. As you exhale, envision any negative energy (any pain, fatigue, tension, stress) being released from your body, carried away on the soft wind of your breath. With every breath, feel the narrow places within you opening, expanding, becoming filled with waves of deep relaxation and healing energy. Feel this happening in your feet, your legs, your hips, your hands, your arms, your shoulders. Feel this happening in the core of your body – your pelvis, abdomen, chest, and spine. Feel this happening in your neck, your head, and your face.
The Torah says: “The human being is like a tree of the field.” Imagine it is a warm summer day. See the sun shining down from a clear blue sky above. Now envision a garden filled with beautiful trees and flowers – filled with flowing streams and waterfalls. Note the beauty of the trees. Some, like the oak, are strong and sturdy. Others, like the willow, sway gracefully in the soft summer breeze. Some are laden with luscious fruit. Some are crowned with beautiful flowers like jeweled diadems. Some are filled with nesting birds and butterflies.
Envision your body as a tree, planted by the hand of God in His/Her garden, gan Eden. Envision your lower limbs as the roots of your tree. Envision the core of your body – your pelvis, abdomen, chest, spine, and ribcage – as the trunk of your tree. Envision your upper limbs as your branches. Envision your head as a crown of fresh leaves and flowering blossoms.
See your roots absorbing water from the ground beneath you – mayim hayim, living waters – waters of Eden. Feel these waters flowing upward from your roots through your entire tree body – nourishing you, sustaining you. Now focus on the flowering blossoms of your crown. Note their color and fragrance. Now envision streams of light flowing from above into these blossoms. This is a light from beyond the sun, from beyond the stars.
Envision this light flowing like sap through every part of your body tree – flowing from the blossoms into the branches, from the branches to the trunk, from the trunk to the roots. See your entire being aglow with this radiant light. Your body is a Tree of Light – a part of the Cosmic Tree of Life. You are one with the Endless Light that fills the universe.
The mystics say the soul manifests in the body as a flock of birds singing the life force into every limb and organ. Envision birds made of pure light nesting among the branches of your tree. Hear the song of these soul birds whispering through the leaves of your tree, singing the life force into every part of your being. Note the exquisite beauty of their song – a melody more beautiful than any you have ever heard. This is the song of your soul. You can hear and feel this song in every beat of your heart – in every breath you take. Know that the Song of the Universe sings through your soul. Know that you are one with the Lit. Spirit. Some new versions of blessings call God "Spirit of the World" (Ruakh Ha’olam), rather than "King of the World" (Melekh Ha'olam). Ha’Olam, the Breath that created and sustains the universe.
Hold onto these images as you now become aware once more of your breath and of the boundaries of your body. As you take a few deep breaths, become aware of the gentle rise and fall of your chest. Become aware once more of your presence in the physical space you are in. Then – whenever you are ready – slowly, gently – open your eyes.