The Torah also teaches “a man is like a tree of the fields.” There is a parallel to each of the seven species for which Eretz Yisrael is praised in our spiritual service.
From the Rebbe’s explanations:
Wheat is described by our Sages as “food for humans.” Thus it refers to service involving the aspect of our beings which is human, the G‑dly soul. The use of the term “food” implies that this service, like actual food, must be assimilated into our being.
Our Sages refer to barley as “food for animals,” i.e., the elevation of the animal soul. Since this service is more difficult than the first, it follows it.
Grapes are used to produce wine which “makes glad G‑d and men.”
The Torah relates that figs were used to make the first garments worn by man. Afterwards, G‑d gave man “leather garments.” In regard to these leather garments, we find Rabbi Meir referring to them as כתונת אור, “garments of light,” rather than כתונת עור, “garments of leather.” This implies that a Jew’s service must involve spreading G‑dly light throughout the world.
In this context, we find the expression “filled with mitzvos as a pomegranate is filled with seeds.” On one hand, each of the seeds of the pomegranate is a separate entity, on the other hand, the separation is an integral part of the fruit itself. This alludes to the concept that each mitzvah has its own unique importance, but that this unique importance is endowed to the mitzvah by the Torah, and not by outside entities.
Olives are bitter. This implies that although a Jew’s life must be characterized by sweetness and goodness, he must, in times of introspection, come to a state of bitterness when evaluating his spiritual achievements.
Bitterness (merirus in Hebrew מרירות) is also associated with Miriam (מרים). The Torah describes her as standing on the side waiting to see what will happen to Moshe.
There is a quality of Moshe in every Jewish soul. Miriam stands by that quality and helps it to develop. Furthermore, Miriam has an influence on Pharaoh, as reflected in the Torah’s narrative. It was she who caused Pharaoh’s daughter to care properly for Moshe.
Dates are referred to in the verse cited above as “honey,” which refers to Pnimiyus HaTorah, the Torah’s mystic dimensions. The study of these matters strengthens the inner dimensions of the Jewish soul, the aspect of our being which, in truth, controls our lives.
Dates are also associated with Devorah the Prophetess who is mentioned in the Haftorah of the previous Shabbos. For she is described as judging the people “under the date palm of Devorah.” She shares a connection with the ultimate Redemption for through her efforts, “the land was at rest for forty years,” and forty is associated with the Redemption.
Through developing a spiritual service that relates to all of these qualities and by spreading these concepts with others so they can do the same, we will merit to proceed to Eretz Yisrael, to Jerusalem, and to the Beis HaMikdash. May this take place in the immediate future.
Based on the Rebbe’s talk on the Tu BeShvat of 5752 / 1992.
This week you can listen to the excerpts from this talk (in Hebrew) in the daily “Dvar Malchut” podcast on the main screen of the app.