Got that pioneering spirit? You’re invited to help build Israel’s periphery by planting roots in southern soil with Nefesh B’Nefesh.
Almost everything that most people “know” about Tu-b’Shvat is totally wrong and completely false. Tu-b’Shvat, the 15th day of the month of Shevat in the religious calendar, has been deconstructed in recent years and converted into a holiday of ecology and environmentalist political agitprop. It is waved about by the Tikkun Olam Pagan crowd as a political banner to demand that all Jews support the Green political agenda.
The wacko “Eco-Judaism” movement, including its Tikkun dervishes, has made Tu-b’Shvat the holiest of all holidays, a day to hug bushes (other than those named George) and worship tree spirits and nature. And Jewish assimilationist liberals use it as theological ammunition to disarm anyone criticizing environmentalist fanatics.
Let’s be clear: Tu-b’Shvat is not a holiday of ecology, and it has nothing to do with environmentalism. It also is not a day in which Jews celebrate pristine forests, national parks and wilderness areas. It is, if anything, the very opposite – the celebration of agri-business and exploitation of nature for human consumption.
Tu-b’Shvat is nominally the “new year of the trees” (it is called this in the Talmud), but I question whether one in 100 liberal politically active Jews can correctly explain in what sense it is so or what this means, and I certainly doubt that any follower of Arthur Waskow or reader of Tikkun magazine on the planet could explain these things correctly.
Tu-b’Shvat is decidedly not the time when Jews celebrate the blossoming of trees. It is the middle of winter when, even in Israel, almost no trees are blossoming. (The almond tree being an exception.) The custom of going out and planting trees on Tu-b’Shvat is a modern reinterpretation of the meaning of the day, and is in fact rather silly. Tu-b’Shvat is the worst part of the year in which to try to plant trees and get them to grow. I have no doubt that 80 percent of the famous saplings planted on Tu B’Shvat by Israeli school children never really take root and grow.
If anything, Tu-b’Shvat is the “new year of trees” precisely because it is when trees are not blossoming and when it is the very worst time to be planting saplings. Tu-b’Shvat is the time when the agricultural year for produce begins, for religious counting purposes.
For example, religious laws having to do with farm produce – such as the sabbatical of the land every seventh year, or the tithes on annual produce donated to the Levites or the Temple, or the counting of growth years to determine when fruit becomes edible – require a chronological basis for counting. The logical time to start that counting is exactly when nothing in nature is happening or growing, in precisely the same way that the time to start counting a new moon (for the new month) is when it is not there at all. It makes the division into annual cycles easier and more logical for counting and taxation purposes.
Tu-b’Shvat is a happy time simply because farmers are about to begin a new agri-cycle. This is so in exactly the same sense as the “new year for farm animals” – also discussed in the Talmud though completely forgotten by most Jews, it starts on the first day of Elul in late summer. Tu-b’Shvat is a fiscal-tax new year, more like April 15 in the U.S. than some sort of “Save the Earth and the Whales Day.” Not only is it not a harvest day, it is a day when most trees are bare, and when dry fruits are eaten because there are so few fresh fruits in season, even in Israel. (Never mind that in Israel these days almost all the dry Tu-b’Shvat fruits come from Turkey.)
Because it is a day on which the annual business cycle in agri-business begins, there is not the slightest smidgen of an environmentalist political agenda in the real meaning of the day. (In fact, Tu-b’Shvat is really no holiday at all in any sense and does not have any liturgy or prayers of its own, other than the routine blessings over foods that one says every day.)
And because it is a celebration of farming, it certainly cannot be used as religious ammunition by those who demand that pristine rain forests and wilderness areas be preserved and their conversion into farms be prevented. People who want to preserve national parks and natural areas are free to lobby for these, but they will find no theological support for their position in the real Tu-b’Shvat.
So why do so many people think Tu-b’Shvat has something to do with preventing greenhouse gasses or promoting animal rights or preserving rain forests? Because the Tikkun Olam Pagans, the assimilationist proponents of leftism-as-Judaism, both in the Diaspora and in Israel, have hijacked and distorted its meaning altogether.
Want to celebrate Tu-b’Shvat in the manner it was intended? Chop down a tree for lumber, slaughter some farm animals for dinner, build a farm in the forest, and fish to your heart’s content.
Steven Plaut, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press, is a professor at Haifa University. His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author: Steven Plaut is a professor at the University of Haifa. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
No tweets found.
The 686 men who expressed their desire to run in Iran’s presidential election were whittled down to 8.
Every American child seems to be on Ritalin and Israelis are imitating them.
The weapons will be given to people whose politics encompass hatred for Jews, Christians, the West generally, and Women.
The top Israeli advocate for letting the terrorists out of jail is none other than Shimon Peres.
The “Community Democracy” model meets all the criteria of the liberal democratic outlook, but it is based on the Jewish heritage and the Torah.
Rowhani will have little power.
“The Lord conferred statehood upon His people so that they might defend the enforcement of justice and preserve the truth contained in our Law as handed down by transmission.”
With Iran and Hezbollah openly supporting the anti-Sunni side in Syria, the battle lines have been redrawn, this time according to ancient and familiar traditions.
Yusuf al-Qaradawi knows how to express his ideas clearly and persuasively.
The boys who leave yeshiva to go to work are made to feel like they are second class and this makes it difficult for them to remain chareidi.
At some point I noticed an arresting picture on his wall and discovered that his maternal grandfather was Rav Dovid Lifshitz.
The Obama team included many outspoken advocates of U.S. action against the Bashir regime.
What, exactly, can we expect from ‘Palestine’?
I was surprised to learn that the MK Miri Regev-led Knesset Interior Committee and I, a Knesset member, were not allowed to visit the Temple Mount.
I favor eliminating the exemption of yeshiva students from military service and, without quibbling about details, I endorse the initiatives designed to end that disgraceful exemption.
American news headlines over the past few weeks have focused on political targeting by the Internal Revenue Service of conservative groups. But Israel is experiencing its own form of political targeting by the state. The attorney general is leading an initiative to have a small group of radical juveniles who engage in mischief declared a terrorist organization.
April 16, 2013
Dear Mr. President,
My heartfelt sympathies to you and the American people for the acts of protest carried out in Boston this week during the Boston Marathon. This really is a wake-up call for us all.
The Israeli left, along with most of the world’s pseudo-intellectual classes, has suddenly discovered Abraham Lincoln, thanks to Steven Spielberg’s much-praised movie.
Honest Abe used exactly the same blockade tactic against the Confederacy over which the Israeli Left is now sobbing its eyes out.
Quick. Name all the Israeli parties that did not run in the recent election on a platform focusing on lowering the price of housing and the cost of living. After that, name all the Israeli parties who understand what has produced the rapid increase in housing prices and have a plan for coping with them and lowering them.
There is a widespread misconception that the Middle East conflict is complicated. In fact, it is really rather simple.
Indeed, one can basically summarize and explain the entire conflict in the context of the words “occupation” or “occupied territories” and people’s beliefs about the effects of such “occupation.”
In 1999, Benjamin Netanyahu, in his first go-round as prime minister, lost his reelection bid to Ehud Barak, much to the delight of Israel’s conscripted media and of many in its judicial system.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-un-greening-of-tu-bshvat/2005/01/19/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online:
No related posts.