Torah Tidbits

18 April 2014 / 18 Nisan 5774
Issue 1030
Shabbat Parshat B'Shalach
January 24, 2013

Lead Tidbit

You're on the Moon...

And you are holding a pencil in your gloved hand. You let go of the pencil. Does it (a) stay where it is? (b) float off into space? (c) fall to the ground?
Many people get this question wrong. The pencil will fall to the ground - the lunar surface, that is). The force of gravity is responsible, and even if the pull of the Moon on the pencil is less than the pull of Earth is, the pencil still falls down. It falls as a lighter object than the same pencil would be on Earth, but it still falls.
Rosh Chodesh Sh’vat and TU BiShvat always fall on the same day of the week as each other. (Add the 8th, 22nd, and 29th - same day.) This is so for the first and fifteenth of any month. In our fixed calendar, that day of the week can be Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Shabbat. Shabbat is the most frequent day for TU Bishvat and its sister dates. It occurs 30% of the time at intervals that vary. It happened last 3 years ago and is scheduled for 4 years from now. Sometimewo years in a row with Shabbat-TU and sometimes there is a span of 10 or 14 years between occurrences.
When TU BiShvat is on Shabbat, that Shabbat is Parshat B’shalach, Shabbat Shira. This gives us a match-up of one of the most famous miracles of all times - the Splitting of the Sea and the day that focuses on Nature. And this overlay of MIRACLE and NATURE leads to the type of Lead Tidbit this will be.
Who is responsible for the Splitting of the Sea? G-d is. Who is responsible for the pencil dropping to the ground? G-d is. Who is responsible for the pomegranate, the fig, the apple, the carob - trees and their fruits? G-d is.
Take a look at the Wikipedia definition of miracle. “A miracle is an event attributed to divine intervention… A miracle is sometimes thought of as a perceptible interruption of the laws of nature. Others suggest that God may work with the laws of nature to perform what people see as miracles. Theologians say that, with divine providence, God regularly works through created nature yet is free to work without, above, or against it as well.”
Not bad.
All of Nature - Created by G-d - is miraculous. Things just happen in nature in predictable ways and often enough that we take them for granted. But they are nonetheless miracles.
Gravity is responsible for objects falling. In a weightless environment, objects will stay put or drift around. And G-d Who created gravity and weightlessness, also can - at His Will - cause that pencil to fall up. That would be unusual enough to be called a miracle.
Our Shabbat Shira - TU BiShvat challenge is to be properly in awe of miracles - easy when they happen, harder when we just read about them - and be appreciative of nature and not take it for granted.
The sedra describes the walls of water that formed and allowed the people of Israel to pass through on dry land. Those walls of water collapsed at G-d’s command and drowned our Egyptian oppressors.
What about the sea that doesn’t split. Next time you are at the beach, stand with your feet in the water and look towards the horizon. Feel and see the waves doing their thing constantly, back and forth. Marvel at that. Marvel at the interplay between the sea and the sand. Scoop up some sand and water and be amazed at the tiny shell that will occasionally be deposited in the palm of your hand.
Touch your tongue to the water. Don’t try to drink any.
Then, find your water bottle and take a swig of salt-free drinkable water. Ponder it. Appreciate it.
B’shalach tell us of the miraculous manna which fell from the heavens and sustained the people for almost 40 years. Appreciate LECHEM MIN HASHAMAYIM.
But the next time you have a piece of challah or a slice of bread, be as impressed - perhaps more so, with the LECHEM MIN HAARETZ. Been sustaining billions of people for a lot longer than 40 years.
This Shabbat, pick up a piece of fruit but think about it for a few seconds before you say a bracha and enjoy it. We have more miracles every day than anything you can find in this week’s sedra. Just look carefully and you will see G-d’s wonders.

In This Issue of Torah Tidbits

Candle Lighting and Havdala

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