Add Some Fruit To Your Diet

Friday, 26 January, 2024 - 2:27 pm

At one time, it was thought that a person needed to eat basics to survive; and that adding things like fruit to one’s diet was a luxury for people that could afford it. At some point it became clear that there were significant health benefits from adding fruit into one’s diet. Fruit (and vegetables) have nutrients, vitamins, minerals that are not just an added benefit for good health, but in some ways, integral to maintaining good health. They have many additional qualities that are foundational to good health.

This week we celebrated Tu B’Shevat, the New Year for Trees. Why are humans celebrating the trees’ New Year? Do they celebrate our New Year? There is a lot we can derive from this holiday and the fruitful lessons it provides.

When it comes to observance of Judaism, the study of Torah, performance of Mitzvot, and our connection to Hashem, there is the basics, the bread, meat, and potatoes. We can technically go through our days checking all the right boxes and keeping everything by the book. But it can be without any pleasure or enthusiasm. We can be mechanical and joyless as we go through the motions of Jewish observance. Tu B’Shevat teaches us that we should not consider it an optional luxury to mix some fruit into our diet. We must add flavor and color to our Judaism. A mitzvah must be performed with joy and passion. Torah must be studied with enthusiasm and pleasure.

In addition, there are specific messages that can be derived from the “fruits of the land of Israel,” that are not just an added benefit or luxury but are integral to maintaining a healthy state in our connection to Hashem. Here are a few samples.

From grapes we learn how vital it is to inject joy into our Judaism. From figs (and the fig-leaf in the Garden of Eden) we learn the power of forgiveness and transformation. From pomegranates we learn how to value each person regardless of their external appearance. From olives we learn how challenges lead to growth. From dates we learn the importance of investing effort in the future. For a more detailed version of these lessons,

A fruit tree is about producing fruit. Deuteronomy (20:19) states, “For man is a tree of the field.” As we go about our lives, we must be cognizant and mindful of the fruit we are bearing, the impact we have on the world around us. Are we producing fruit that is beneficial to humanity and Hashem’s goal for creation?

Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom and a fruit producing adventure filled with flavor, color, and effervescence.

Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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