Thursday, April 5, 2007

Tu B'Shvat with some fruitcakes...

I was reading some of my previous posts, and I realized that I sounded so depressed before!
Anyway, to bring you up to speed, this past week was Tu B'Shvat, and I had a really nice time. In america, or at least where I'm from, we don't really celebrate the Chag Ha'Ilanot. Basically, you get a paper baggie with "Perot Ha'Aretz" emblazoned on it, and the contents are dried out and leathery. Not so here in the Holy Land. I was invited to several Tu B'Shvat seudot, and I tried to make it to every one of them. The first one I went to was at a friend of mine's house.
This friend of mine is really interesting. He's chassidish, with a healthy dose of Carlbachness to him. The yeshiva that he learns in has a large mix of guys, and they all attended the seudah. Along with those guys, there were also teens in Kippot srugot, and people from every spectrum of judaism. It was beautiful. Two guys brought guitars, and there was also a mandolin player there, and we sat and sang songs for a while. The table was groaning under the weight of fruit on it, and they weren't just any fruit. Beautifully arranged, these fruits looked ripe and delicious, in vivid color, like the rainbow. Back and forth, people would trade divrei torah, and the atmosphere was truly wonderful. I really enjoyed myself, and I couldn't help thinking that this is what Mehudar really means.
The rest of the seudot that I attended were similar, and I was just left with a feeling of lacking, coming from america. It seems like they really know how to do things here in Eretz Yisroel, and for that, I savor my time here.
On a different note, as I wrote in an earlier post, I've been trying to fing chavrusas for extracurricular subjects. Thankfully, I am going to begin a halachs seder this coming week, tomorrow, God willing. Hopefully, that will go well. In the meantime, I've already begun a different seder, a weekly one, that I learn with the friend who had the Tu B'Shvat seudah by his house. Since it's something that I feel a draw to, we've decided to learn chassidus. I've learnt several chassidishe sefarim in the past, but they were more chassidus- lite. This time around, I'm learning one of the basics of chassidus: Tanya.
Now, despite the immediate associations made with Tanya, it is not solely a Lubavitch sefer. Not only do most chassidim (including Satmar) learn it, but I happen to know several important Litvishe people who learn it. Aside from being one of the foundations of chasidic thought, it also happens to be a valuable source of knowledge into understanding the depths of the human soul, aside from deeper esoteric subjects.
Of course, I don't claim to understand everything I've learned, so far. Still, I think part of learning it is soaking up the information you don't understand, and letting it seep through into your neshama. So far, I've been enjoying it, and hopefully, it'll go well.
Until next time....
Originally posted Sunday, 19 February 2006

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