In the Mahane Yehuda market in Jersalem, everything is ready for Tu B’shvat, the new year for trees. The Torah permits and prohibits different uses of fruit trees based on their age, and so the 15th of the month of Shvat marks the dividing line between tree years. This means that a tree planted today, on the 14th of Shvat, will count as being 2-years-old tomorrow.
How time flies.
I just emailed my wife, Nancy, and my daughter, Yarden, a list of what they should bring from the Netanya shuk for tonight’s festivities:
For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey. (Deuteronomy 8:7-8)
So, please get us:
Wheat cookies Rye bread Grapes Figs (fresh if possible) Pomegranates in any edible form–juice good too Olives of many colors Dates (the honey is not bee vomit but dates)
Now, take a look at the Tu B’Shvat seder in the court of the Kartshnif Chassidim in Bnei Brak: apples and bananas and pineapples and plums, like they never saw those verses from Deuteronomy. Good for them! They’re not being literal about it. If it grows in Eretz Israel, it’s good enough for Tu B’Shvat.
Although the banana is not technically a tree but a bush.
Come to think of it, it’s better to make a bracha over an orange that grew in Israel than dried figs from Turkey.
My Tu B’Shvat resolution (since it is a new year) is to have fun on Jewish holidays and not worry so much whether I’m doing the right thing. Once I get to 120 and must face judgment, I’m sure it won’t be so critical if they throw in a banana.
About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.
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