Tu B’shvat teaches us not only to plant biological trees for future generations. but to also focus on the importance of seeking to realize our spiritual longings for love and peace, because negativity, cynicism and despair destroy our spirits. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a Tree of Life” that makes us productive and generous. (Proverbs 13:12)
Tu B’ahvat also teaches us that doing good deeds for others and for God is the way to save our lives from a perverse and negative tongue filled with criticism of others and ourselves. “The fruit of the righteous is a Tree of Life, and one who is wise saves lives.” (Proverbs 11:30)
Finally, Proverbs 3:18 tells us that by making a strong commitment to following God’s teachings we will live a life of goodness and love. “She (female Torah wisdom) is a Tree of Life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her tight will be happy.” The rabbis took the feminine words wisdom and Torah (Jewish teachings) as interchangeable.
“Some men feel they are blessed because the women they marry are gifts from God. I know I feel this way. Not all loving relationships are arranged in heaven; but if you are in one of them you should thank God. I do. At first I thought it was just love that made our relationship so great. But as the years passed, we married in 1966, I realized more and more that my wife is a gift from God.
Since I am a Rabbi, it is not surprising that I think about life in religious terms. I am also a student and teacher of Jewish mysticism so I often use Kabbalah concepts to explore and understand one of the most profound of life’s personal spiritual experiences. Although I thank God for my wife every day, it is when we make love that I feel closest to her and to God.
The well known Kabbalist Moses Cordovero states in his book Deborah’s Palm Tree: ‘Man stands between the two females, the physical female (his wife) who receives from him food, clothing and sexual activities; and the Shekinah (God’s divine presence) who stands above him to bless him with these (3 things) which he, in turn, gives to his covenanted wife.’
Rabbi Israel Ba’al Shem Tov, the founder of the Hasidic movement, said (in Zava’at ha- Riva’sh), “Prayer is intercourse with the Shekinah” (the feminine presence of God). I would add that intercourse with a God given Shekinah wife is a divine service because one is always aware of God’s presence and blessing.
As Rabbi Akiba ben Joseph the convert, taught, “Husband and wife: if they are worthy, Shekinah abides between them; if not, fire consumes them.” (Talmud: Sotah 17a)
Most Jews know that sexual activities between a husband and wife are a Mitzvah – a Jewish responsibility. Many Jews know that lovemaking on Shabbat is a double Mitzvah. Some Jews know that the Kabbalah (the Jewish mystical tradition) teaches that the Shekinah (the feminine presence of God) rests on a Jewish man when he makes love to his Jewish wife on Shabbat.
Actually the Shekinah can rest on a man whenever he makes love to his wife with a sense of reverence, tenderness, adoration and love. The Shabbat adds holiness and choosiness to their feelings. Non Orthodox Rabbis have expanded all these principles to apply potentially to any and every loving couple. I will continue to use the traditional gender terms so that the radical teachings in the Jewish mystical tradition about sexuality remain evident.
In the past the esoteric details of how to elevate their lovemaking into a Tikun, a repair of fractured relationships in society and nature, were transmitted orally and very discreetly from mother to daughter. These details were based on the seventh chapter of the Song of Songs, a Biblical book that Rabbi Akiba proclaimed the holiest song in the entire Scriptures.
“How beautiful and pleasant you are O loved one, with all your delights! Your (upright) stature is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters. I say, I will ascend the palm tree and lay hold of its fruit. (Song of Songs (7:8)
A wife who desires to enable her husband to fulfill the Mitzvah of Tikun coupling should direct him to begin by kissing and creaming her feet (Song of Songs 7:2). Then she should direct him to slowly and reverently work his way up to her crowning flowing hair that entangles a King/God, (7:6) thus allowing him to climb the palm tree (7:9) and perform the unification below which is woven into the unification above. Over the years, the spiritual uplift of this Tikun becomes greater and greater.”
We live in a very special generation because we have been blessed by a miraculous rise in female rabbis. A 2,600 year old prophecy of Jeremiah is being fulfilled: “God will create a new thing on the earth; females will surround males.” (Jeremiah 31:22)
Now that female Rabbis are all around us, the details of sacred sexuality based on the fourth and seventh chapter of the Song of Songs can be revealed and understood by every loving couple that desires their sexuality to help them ascend the ten jewels (sapphires) of a (phallic) palm tree (with branches shaped like a female vulva) and experience a divine-human sacred relationship. “The Torah of kindness is always on her tongue” (Proverbs 31:26).
The tree of life has five hundred thousand different species of fruit, each differing in taste. The appearance of one fruit is not like the appearance of the other, and the fragrance of one fruit is not like the fragrance of the other. Clouds of glory hover above the tree of life and from the four directions winds blow on it, so that its fragrance is wafted from one end of the world to the other end.” (Yalkut Bereishit 2)