Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut, Sometimes You Donít

Parshat Yitro describes Godís revelation to Bínai Yisrael at Har Sinai.


According to Yalkut Shimoni, Shir HaShirim 992, Bínai Yisrael who were sanctified at Har Sinai are compared to a nut. When the shell is broken, the nut emerges. When the Jewish people are sanctified and their evil inclination is broken they become soft and gentle to both God and other people.


Midrash Shir HaShirim Raba 6:11 explains: There are three types of nuts. The first kind has a shell that is very simple to open and it is easy to remove the nut. The second type has a medium shell, if you bang it hard then it will break open. The third variety is very hard to crack and you need a tool such as a nutcracker to smash it open. So too are the Jewish people: Some give Tzedaka by themselves, some give when asked and others donít give even when asked. Fortunately most of the Jewish people are like the first two types of nuts.


Rav Azariya taught: If a nut (that is still in its shell) falls into the dirt, then it can be wiped clean, washed and restored to edible condition. So too the Jewish people, they may get tainted by wrongdoing and sin during the year but when they return to God before Yom Kippur and do Tshuva (repent) their sins are forgiven.


The same Midrash also explains that the Jewish people are like a pile of nuts. If one nut is removed from the pile, all of the other nuts are disturbed.


We saw this idea very clearly last week when a high school student from Boston was missing and Jewish people from around the world offered their help to look for him. The Boston police said that they never saw such an outpouring of concern for a missing person.


Just as the pile of nuts was shaken, the Jewish community was unable to sit comfortably until the boy was found.


With Tu BiShvat behind us this is a good opportunity to examine our deeds and see if in fact we are acting as the right kinds of nuts. Do we give Tzedaka generously? Do we do Tshuva and apologize if we hurt our fellow person? Do we open our shells to the teachings of the Torah? Do we go out of our way for others even if we may not know them personally?