- Torah Portion and Tanach
In our Sedra, Ahron's position as Kohen Gadol is challenged. G-d orders that each tribe take a staff with their name on it; the one that miraculously blossoms signifies that it is the choice of Hashem. Ahron's staff, that of Levi, blossoms first, with ripe almonds (this staff stayed in bloom for centuries & was kept in the Bet HaMikdash with a sample of the Mahn). Almonds - "shaked" in Hebrew - signify zeal, speed, & faithfulness. The almond tree is the first to bloom in Israel, in the midst of our rainy season, thus Chazal decided that the time they bloomed (Tu B'Shvat) would be the New Year for trees. When Yirmiyahu is shown an almond tree (1:11-12), it is a sign that Hashem carries out His word punctually. The cups on the Menora (some say the Menora itself!) were shaped like almonds. Israelis love & consume 7000 tons of almonds each year. Marzipan, made from almonds, has its own museum in Kfar Tavor, complete with a marzipan sculpture of Jewish (that’s right!) icon Elvis Presley!