Today is the 15th of Shevat and we celebrate the New Year for Trees by eating fruits. Did you ever wonder why we celebrate the Birthday for Trees in the middle of winter, when it is still cold and trees are bare without any sign of growth?

Last week, I welcomed 11 year old girls to the Capital District Bat Mitzvah Club, titled: “Bat Mitzvah Buds and Tu B’Shevat”. We asked the question, “Why do we celebrate a Bat Mitzvah, the age of adulthood at the young age of 12? Why don’t we celebrate at the age of 18, once a young girl has transformed into an accomplished adult?

I look around and see so much pain in the world. Today, my dear mother got up from mourning the passing of her mother. A special friend, Miriam Ravnoy, who was my first camp counselor, lost her husband Rabbi Ariel so suddenly and is a mother to seven young children. My friend, Emunah Sohn, who was one of our first Bat Mitzvah Club hostesses, is mourning the passing of her father today.

How can we celebrate life when the good is concealed from us?

Tu B’Shevat reminds us that there is more to life then what meets the eye. We enjoy the taste of sweet fruits and renew our hope and faith for the coming of spring and the end of the cold winter. Today, we celebrate potential. We celebrate our faith in a bright future!

The farmer in Israel is committed to bringing out this potential by nurturing his garden. He knows that at this time, the sap is beginning to flow hidden within the trees, which will cause the trees to produce sweet fruits in the near future.

At age 12, we celebrate the wonderful potential within a Bat Mitzvah girl. On this day, she is given her complete soul with all the power to blossom into a beautiful daughter of Israel. She is committed to bringing out her potential through Torah study, performing Mitzvot and revealing her unique strengths.

A Bat Mitzvah girl usually celebrates this milestone with the women and girls in her life, who will help nurture her soul so it grows to maximize its potential. Just like a tree needs care, she needs the love and support of these special women and girls in her life.

The world seems bare and cold but underneath all these hardships is the beginning of a new era. Spring is around the corner. A world of redemption from all pain and suffering is closer than ever before and this dark exile will come to an end. We cannot give up hope now. We can do our part to bring redemption!

The Rebbe taught that the way we produce fruits with seeds for new trees is when we exert positive influence upon our environment – upon friends, acquaintances, and anyone we happen to meet – that they, too, produce “fruits.”

What can we do?
1. In honor of Tu B’shevat, celebrate your own potential to influence positive change in the world. Take example from the gardener who looks ahead to the future with hope and works diligently, so he will enjoy the fruits of his labor in the spring.

1. This is also the time to exert renewed efforts to reveal the potential in our own Jewish daughters so they turn into true Bat Mitzvah girls and future Jewish mothers.
2. Let’s plant seeds of Mitzvos in memory of our loved ones and renew our faith in the coming of Moshiach, a time when all of creation will blossom.

May we be celebrate the era of Moshiach with our loved ones and enjoy the fruits of our labor in the Holy Land speedily in our days!