Posts Tagged ‘New Year’
The apple and honey tradition on Rosh Hashanah has Israelis consuming 15,000 tons of apples during the month of September, an increase of almost 50 percent from average consumption during the rest of the year.
Israel’s crop of apples is of a particularly high quality this year, according to Amos Levin, general manager of the Galilee Development Corporation and chairman of the apple division of Israel’s Plants Production and Marketing Board.
“This summer’s relative cooler temperatures, especially at night, helped produce a higher quality of crop,” he said. Levin noted that this year’s crop, harvested from August through November, is excellent for size, color and taste.
Nearly all of Israel’s apples are grown in the hills of the Galilee and the Golan Heights because apples require cold winters and cooler summer nights to grow best.
The northern apple orchards are located on hills that are more than 2,000 feet higher and cover approximately 10,500 acres.
More than 100,000 tons of apples are sold in Israel each year, with the apple market valued at more than $200 million, serving as the core for the local economy in the Golan Heights. Another 7,000 tons of apples are imported into Israel from the United States and Europe.
While Israel exports little of its apples abroad, this year, the country exported 18,000 tons of apples grown by Druze farmers living in the Golan to Syria, in coordination with the Plants Production and Marketing Board, the IDF and the Red Cross. The Druze apple growers of the Golan have been selling to Syria has for the past eight year, but the apple exports were stopped in 2012 when the war situation became too volatile.
This year the apple industry also drew a number of university students from across Israel interested in learning more about agriculture and helping out Golan apple growers.
Sapir college student, Yotam Eyal told Tazpit News Agency that he and his friends have been picking apples for the past month.
“We are college students from all over Israel – from the Negev, Jerusalem, and the north, who are interested in learning more about agriculture and connecting to the land,” Eyal explained. “There are projects that have been initiated in the past year which get students involved in these areas.”
“It’s good to see where a fruit like an apple that you buy in the supermarket comes from,” commented Eyal. “Picking apples all day in the orchard is hard work. But it has made us appreciate dipping the apple in honey that much more this Rosh HaShanah.”
It began last week, when my colleague Stephen Leavitt and I were looking for a unique way to bring in the new year, with the help of our readers. We thought of all kinds of polls that would get our readers riled up, or, at least, give them a chuckle. But we couldn’t come up with anything that would combine all the aspects of what a new year is about, and so, finally, we decided to leave it up to the readers.
We called it “The JewishPress.com Rosh Hashanah Petition to God.”
As demands of reader participation go, this one was pretty high. You were supposed to share with us your real hopes for the new year, in an effort to impress God with our appeals as a group and—as a group—receive better attention.
There is a Jewish concept of “The king’s glory is intensified by the size of His assembly,” meaning that in approaching God, the bigger the crowd, the better. But it had to be real, it had to be sincere.
Here are a few of my favorites (my own request was “Please make my most favorite lake in the world, the Kineret, rise up to its healthy level this coming year.”)
Some of our readers were, indeed, direct, personal, open, and sincere:
“Oh, Almighty Hashem, please restore to me health of mind, body and soul. Also, please let me return to Israel while my health allows. Shalom!”
“HaShem, my Redeemer and Sustainer, please allow me stay where I arrived 5 years ago and marry the man whom I will love.”
I also liked those who were very specific:
“That Heather get a good paying safe job.”
And a political wish:
“No October surprises for the American elections….!”
I happen to know the above reader personally, and she is a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, so her wish, I presume, is that the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, not surprise his Opponent just before the elections. But I’m sure there are many Republicans among our readers who are just as petrified of an Obama October surprise.
Another close friend of mine wrote what she wished for:
“A plot of land in the Galilee in which to farm and live in peace and health.”
Probably one of the most touching, specific and open was this one:
“Please guide my granddaughter and make her see that she is worthy of a terrific, white, Jewish young man and not a worthless Black Goy with no future…”
A similar plea:
“A cure for Alzheimer’s and heart disease for my mother; and for my older daughter to return to our faith and not marry a non Jew.”
Another one, just as personal:
“I’m about to marry my first wife for the second time. Please Hashem, help me hold it together this time.”
This one is so simple, we just know it’s coming true this coming year:
“To receive my green card.”
And another one that’s not fooling around:
“Please send me a nice husband! You know what I want and need. Thank you in advance.”
And on a more general level:
“Please ensure that Obama is not re-elected.”
“May God be sure that Obama is reelected.”
And a heartfelt plea on the same topic:
“Please bring some sanity and common sense to those Jews who are voting for Obama.”
Followed by a similarly benign wish:
“Re-election of President Obama, protection of Israel, and the reconciliation of Jews and African-Americans.”
Finally, the most recent wish was entered on Sunday morning:
“Please help me live in the moment.”
Amen to all your wishes. There were many pleas for peace and prosperity and victory over Iran and Messiah (with a few Christian readers sneaking their decidedly un-Jewish wishes, which we decided not to censor because they weren’t aggressively preachy).
A happy and sweet new year from all of us at JewishPress.com.
Sen. George McGovern, the Democratic Presidential candidate, greeted American Jews today on the occasion of the High Holy Days. “Mrs. McGovern joins me in wishing our Jewish friends and Jews around the world a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year,” the South Dakotan said.
“Traditionally,” McGovern’s message continued. “the High Holy Days has been a period for reflection and rededication. Jews have chosen the Days of Awe as a time for the individual to look at himself to examine how he can better fulfill his responsibilities to his Maker and his fellow man.
“Rosh Hashana symbolizes a reaffirmation of the values that have shaped the Jewish role within the world community. It marks a renewed commitment to the task of improving the world unto the Almighty. I join the Jewish community in the prayer that the New Year 5733 will bring a time of peace, Justice and brotherhood for all men.” McGovern’s message concluded.
The Kashrut Dept. of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate published a warning on the eve of Tu B’Shvat, cautioning against eating some of the holiday’s traditional fruits. Figs are at the top of the list, because of concern regarding insects and worms which “hide inside the fruit’s flesh and are difficult to detect.”
Carobs are also listed as “highly infected” because of the way they are grown and stored. The Chief Rabbinate recommends washing the fruit well, checking it for holes, and even banging it against the tabletop, to make sure its insides don’t crumble easily – both being telltale signs of the presence of worms.
The holiday of Tu B’Shvat starts tonight, the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat, marking the New Year for Trees. It is celebrated by consuming the fruits which are indigenous to Eretz Israel according to the Torah.
A kabalistic custom calls for holding a Tu B’Shvat seder, in which participants eat ten local fruits and drink four cups of wine, the latter custom reminiscent of the Passover seder.
Question: Why is Tu B’Shevat, known as the New Year for Trees, in the middle of the month and not at the beginning of the month – like all other New Years?
Answer: The first mishnah in Tractate Rosh Hashanah lists the various New Years. Each of them, like you write, falls on the first of the month except for Tu B’Shevat.
There are exceptions, however. For example, the Gemara (ibid., 4a) asks regarding the New Year for festivals (which is also used to reckon the years of a king’s reign): “How can the New Year for the festivals be on the first of Nissan, when surely it is on the 15th of Nissan?” The Gemara answers that the mishnah means to say that the festival, Pesach, that occurs in the first month of the year marks the New Year for festivals. The New Year itself, though, starts on the 15th.
Two additional New Years – not enumerated in our mishnah – also do not fall on the first of the month. The New Year relating to the omer – the sacrifice that permitted one to partake of newly harvested grains of the five species throughout the land – occurs on the 16th of Nissan, and the New Year for the shetei halechem (two loaves) – permitting the use of flour from newly harvested grains for meal-offerings in the Beit Hamikdash – occurs on the 6th of Sivan. The Gemara explains that the mishnah does not list these two New Years because they start during the day rather than the previous night.
Thus, we see that Tu B’Shevat is not that unique. However, perhaps it appears to be so because it is the only New Year listed in the mishnah that does not occur on the first of the month (in some sense of the word) according to Beit Hillel, whose ruling we follow. Beit Hillel states that sufficient rain has fallen by the 15th of Shevat, enabling trees to blossom. We therefore set the New Year for trees at that point.
For a more esoteric understanding of the significance of the 15th of Shevat as the New Year for trees, we turn to the author of the chassidic work, Ohev Yisrael by Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Heschel of Apta, who discusses this matter. We glean from his words:
“Regarding Tu B’Shevat, we must know and understand why it is stated specifically there (in the mishnah), ‘The New Year of the Tree, according to Beit Hillel, is on the 15th of Shevat, while according to Beit Shammai it is on the first of Shevat.’ It is also important to understand the reference to ‘tree’ in the singular, when it should have stated [the New Year of the] Trees, in the plural.
“We must answer that it states in the Torah (Deuteronomy 20:19), ‘For man is the tree of the field.’ [Here the author is alluding to the interpretation in Gemara Ta'anit 7a.] Just as the tree possesses roots, branches, leaves and fruit, so does the Jew possess all these because of his good deeds. How are these drawn to man? They stem from their source, the root of the Jewish soul, which is the Holy Tree – the Tree of Life under which all Creation’s animals and birds of the skies seek shelter. It is the tree that is blessed so that all its shoots are like it.
“The word ilan [tree in Hebrew] is numerically equivalent to the two Holy Names, Havaya and Adnut (their combined total is 91). This is in accordance with the hidden meaning of ‘Tzaddik katamar yifrach – A righteous man shall blossom as the date tree…’ (Psalms 93:13). Just as the palm tree has the means of propagating itself, so, too, do the righteous bring forth those that will propagate themselves.”
Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Heschel continues with a citation from Tractate Rosh Hashanah (10b-11a). R. Yehoshua claims the world was created in Nissan, but R. Eliezer argues it was created in Tishrei. (These two months both launch the beginning of a different half of the year.) Rabbi Heschel points out that both these statements are “the living words of G-d” – both are true in some sense. He explains: “On [the first of] Tishrei the thought came to His mind to create the world, as the paytan notes [in our Rosh Hashanah liturgy], ‘Hayom harat olam – Today You have conceived the world.’ However, the actual creation was in Nissan.”
He then offers a lengthy explanation, comparing the tree to the original Creation by presenting the month of Shevat as a microcosm of the 12 months of the year and dividing Shevat into two parts. He compares the first half of the month to the conception of trees – the part of creation that is hidden. This is actually the essence of Beit Shammai‘s opinion, whose rulings hold sway in the Heavenly Court. Beit Hillel, on the other hand, represents that which is revealed – like the blossoming of trees. For the most part, blossoms appear on the first day of the second half of the month – Tu B’Shevat.
The Jordanian Foreign Ministry has rejected the New Year’s wishes of Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, sending the letter back because it called Jerusalem the capital of the State of Israel.
Israeli Ambassador to Jordan Danny Naveh was called in to receive the protests of head of the Jordanian Senate Taher al-Masri, who said the letter’s “objectionable opinions” reflect a “mentality of someone who conquers land and other people’s rights,” according to Jordanian daily newspaper al-Ghad. In the letter, similar copies of which were sent around the world to various international leaders and parliamentarians, Rivlin wished al-Masri a happy solar new year, and signed it from “the holy city of Jerusalem, the capital of Israel”.
In the letter, Rivlin also noted current threats to the Jewish state from Iran, Hamas, and Hizbullah, and criticized the Palestinian Authority, who he says “refuses to resume face-to-face peace negotiations with Israel.” Yet he expressed hope for the future of Israel, saying “despite all challenges, we will remain optimistic because our fathers who founded the state in 1948 were optimistic” despite the harsh physical conditions they encountered.
Al-Masri said the letter exemplified “Israel’s arrogance, boasting and racism, as well as pervert[s] historic facts to prove Israel’s claims.”
Rivlin commented Sunday at England’s House of Lords that Zionism is not anti-Arab or anti-Islam. He said he would be willing to meet with al-Masri to discuss the letter, if the Jordanian legislator wished.