This teaching is a tiny seedling of a much greater tree. Below are the meditations that I wrote to help lead my part of an event. The instructions below were part of a ritual meal of fruit and wine and between each section here there were other teachings about each individual glass of wine. I will upload those in the future and post an update to this article when I have that information.
Tu B’Shevat is a Jewish holiday that honors the first rising of the sap in the trees. Folks usually gather and celebrate fruits from trees and also plant trees at this time. We celebrate the holiday in various ways, but one of the things we do is to have a special meal called a Seder. Seder is a Hebrew word that literally means order. It is also a Middah. The Seder is an ordered/ritualized series of blessings over wine and fruit. One of the beautiful things about this meal is that nothing is killed for it. All that you consume is something that is a fruit, including the wine. It’s an opportunity to just receive without having done anything other than be lucky enough to live on this planet full of wondrous plants and trees who offer their fruits to us.
Four Worlds Meditation and Blessings for Tu’B’Shevat:
A note on Blessings. In our tradition between the blessing and the action of the blessing, there needs to be nothing else. The blessing is a link between the world of Ha-Shem, the world of Holiness and our actions in this Assiyah world. We say a blessing then we do the action. We do not speak or do other things between the two. This practice requires conscious effort and tonight, we invite you to practice this with us. Our teachings and thoughts will come before each blessing, followed by some silence then the blessings, then the action of either eating the fruit or drinking the wine.
Assiyah: World of Physicality
Yitzirah: World of Emotions
Beriyah: World of Intellect
Atzilut: World of Spirit
Assiyah: World of Physicality~Earth My Body
World of action, physical world represented by earth and the season of Winter. We eat fruits with hard outer shells and soft insides such as: pomegranates, walnuts, almonds, coconuts, pistachios, chestnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts or pecans. In Winter we layer ourselves in clothing to protect our bodies. The fruit is similarly covered in a shell. Removing the shell, the klippot, exposes the fleshy vulnerable inside. The shell conceals and protects. As we Bless and experience this first fruit of our Seder, be conscious of the shell of the nut and the shell that holds your insides and protects but also covers your essence. Quietly take five fruits of this kind, at least one of which has a shell. In your left hand hold the hard shell closed nut. In the right hand hold the fruits you will bless and eat. Be still with each as we breathe and I will lead the blessing which you have in front of you so you can join me or you can stay in the silence and just say Amen and then eat your fruit.
Yitzirah: World of Emotions~Water my Blood
The most vulnerable world of formation from our physical to our emotional. This is the place of our inclinations to be creative, to feel, to be moved by what is without and within. We speak and sing and dance and create from this place. This world is represented by water and the season of Spring. We remove some of the layers as we draw closer to the Holy Heat Source as well as the physical changing of the seasons. We can expose ourselves and not be injured in the doing if the climate is right. We eat fruits that are soft on the outside with hard pits on the inside. We remember that even though we can be creative and feel and speak and sing we still have a hard pit inside, part of it is our personal ego, part of it is the seed that connects us to the Divine and it is protected and hidden. We eat fruits such as: Olives, dates, cherries, persimmons, apricot, plums. As previously, please take five fruits and put one with a pit inside in your left hand and the others in your right hand as we breathe and prepare to bless and partake of these fruits.
Beriyah: World of Intellect/Creation~Air my Breath
This is the world of creation and thoughts and our Lev Mind, our shared heart/mind. The element is air and the season is summer. In this realm, we have let go of our shells and our hidden inner shell or pit. We are soft and safe and vulnerable as well as whole and cared for and can be experienced whole. We are at one with each other and with all of creation. In this place we do not notice the distinctions so much as we recognize the UNITY that runs throughout all of creation and all of us and we partake of that unity completely. We are integrated. We eat fruits that are edible entirely, figs, apples, raisins, pears, quince. Hold some of each of these fruits in each hand as we breathe and bless and partake of these fruits.
Atzilut: World of Spirit/Emanation ~Fire my Spirit
This realm is a purely spiritual one. The season is Fall, when all is ripe. This world cannot be represented by any fruit, it can be experienced through our sense of smell perhaps and our memories as well as by our inner linking and awareness of The Holy One’s love, mercy and wisdom. We can engage in prayer for this fruit from the place of our praise of the Source which renews all of creation continually. With both hands open hold your empty but full hands and be present as we breathe and partake of the spark of emanation that is not in physical form that we can see and touch but which is nevertheless present in our palms and in our hearts and in this moment.
Blessings For the Tu b’Shvat Seder:
כאשר אני מברך, יהי רצון שאהיה צנור להשפיע חיות לכל הנבראים– ואף לדומם, צומח, חי, ומדבר.
Ca’asher ani m’vareich, y’hi ratzon she’eh’yeh tzinor l’hashpiya chiyut l’chol hanivra’im – v’aph l’domeim, tzomeiyach, chai, um’dabeir.
When I make this blessing, may I become a channel for renewed divine energy to flow through me and go out to all creatures and creations – inanimate, plant, animal and human.
On wine and grape juice:
ברוך אתה יי אלהינו מלך העולם, בורא פרי הגפן
Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha-Olam Borei Pri Ha-Gafen.
Blessed are You, H’, our G-d, Sovereign of the Universe, Who creates the fruit of the vine.
For all fruits from permanent trees, such as apples, oranges, and peaches, even if these fruits are dried; also grapes, raisins, and all nuts (except peanuts, which are a legume):
ברוך אתה יי אלהינו מלך העולם, בורא פרי העץ
Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha-Olam Borei Pri Ha-Eitz.
Blessed are You, H’, our G-d, Sovereign of the Universe, Who creates the fruit of the tree.
These blessings were written out for me by my dear friend Caroline Isaacs who I co-led the Meditative Seder with.
©Nicole Barchilon Frank