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October 4, 2015 / 21 Tishri, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘tu b’shvat’

Tu B’Shvat at the President’s House

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

President Ruby Rivlin and his wife Nechama celebrated their first Tu B’Shvat holiday at the President’s residence, on February 3, 2015.

Israel, Mother Nature’s Child

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

{Originally posted on author’s website, FirstOne Through}

You will not find Jews sticking candles into tree bark, or trees pounding piñatas held aloft by tall people. But the holiday exists as a milestone, typically with people eating various fruits which were grown in Israel.

Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz wrote an article about how the New Year for Trees – Tu b’Shvat – evolved over the centuries. It began as a note on the calendar and became more significant as Jews were evicted from the holy land. People made a deliberate effort to connect with the land of Israel, so the holiday grew into a minor festival.

Today, we have a have a more environmentally-aware conception of the day. Rabbi Steinsaltz writes that we acknowledge “that all living creatures — plants included — have a connection with the human spirit, a common bond of life. It means that all the forms of life around us are not only meant to furnish us with materials for our subsistence. They actually share a definition of life with us, of growth, or bearing fruit.”

The modern country of Israel has been deeply connected to the land since the early pioneers tilled the land and fought off malaria in the swamps in the north.  Today the country stands as a leader in environmentally-friendly projects:

Here is the celebratory First-One-Through music video with music by the Beatles:

It is remarkable to consider that this same land went through so many cycles in its history. The bible often referred to the land as “flowing with milk and honey”. The biblical commentator Ramban taught that that expression referred to the nectar in the fruit that was so rich and over-flowing, due to an extremely fertile land.

However, just 150 years ago, the land was in serious neglect under the Ottomans. In 1867, Mark Twain remarked while he visited that the holy land was “A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds… a silent mournful expanse…. a desolation…. we never saw a human being on the whole route…. hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.

The modern state of Israel can be proud and reflect on its accomplishments during the New Year for Trees.

Enjoy the holiday.

A Tale for Tu B’shvat, the Jewish Birthday of the Trees

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

Tzohar Rabbis Help Lead Knesset’s First Ever Tu B’Shvat Seder

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

The Knesset held its first ever Tu B’Shvat Seder on Thursday, hosted by the Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein, who focused on how the holiday promotes an enhanced connection with the Land of Israel.”

The Seder, which replicates the four cups of wine of the Passover Seder and includes traditional readings associated with land and produce, was conducted jointly by Knesset Member Ruth Calderon, of Yesh Atid, and Rabbi David Stav, founder and president of the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization.

Tu B’Shvat is taught in Jewish tradition to be the birthday of the trees and serves as the day in the Jewish calendar when thanks is given for food and produce.

“When I lived in Russia, the holiday would fall in the midst of bone-chilling winter, but here it’s a whole different experience and one that allows us to rejoice in our homeland,” Edelstein said while expressing hope that the Knesset Seder would become an annual tradition.

He added that even in the midst of the winter season in Israel, “ one can connect to the concept of blossoming trees.”

Rabbi Stav, whose efforts as head of Tzohar have been instrumental in promoting enhanced connections between Jewish tradition and the Israeli legislature, said that at its essence Tu B’Shvat is a holiday of belief.

“The truth is that even here in Israel, where the weather is relatively warm, we’re not yet seeing the trees blossom,” he said. “But the lesson is that we believe that the good times of produce and success are just ahead and that is a message of faith that has meaning far beyond just this holiday.”

MK Calderon said that the initiative for the Knesset Seder was built around a concept of promoting a Jewish renaissance within Israeli society. “This holiday serves to remind all of us of the beauty of the land we live in and to better recognize the importance of everything we have.”

The Seder features foods from all the Seven Species known as particular holy in Jewish tradition/

More than 200 people attended the Knesset Seder, including government ministers, Knesset Members and staff and students from around Israel.

A Tu B’Shvat Tribute to Israel

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

My good friend Yonina Pritzker is the spiritual leader of Congregation Ohr Yisrael in Newton, Massachusetts. In addition to her congregational and community work, she has worked at The David Project on curricula related to Israel, and at CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) as a Research Analyst. She is also the most pro-Israel leader around! In honor of Tu B’Shvat she has written a reminder of what Israel is all about:

tu bishvat poster

When the ancient Temple stood in Jerusalem, and even after its destruction, the income of Israelite farmers was taxed by one tenth. The date which marked the end of one fruit crop and the beginning of the next fruit crop was the 15th day of the month of Shevat. This day, known as Tu B’Shvat, celebrated this year on Thursday, January 16, was considered to be the New Year for trees, just as Rosh HaShanah is our New Year. It was thought that the trees also stood in judgment that day, and their fruitfulness in the upcoming year was decided.

In celebration of Tu B’Shvat, Ashkenazi Jews in Europe would sing Psalms and eat different kinds of fruit from the trees of Israel. During the sixteenth century, the Kabbalists and mystics of Tzfat in Israel developed a Tu B’Shvat Seder, patterned after our Passover Seder. Amidst the drinking of four cups of wine, a multitude of fruit would be eaten

We are taught in the Torah, For the L-rd your G-d is bringing you to a good land: … A land of wheat, barley, grapes, figs and pomegranates; a land of oil-yielding olives and honey. Deuteronomy 8:8

These are the seven species which are associated with the Land of Israel and which we traditionally eat on Tu B’Shvat.

Fifteen times, the Torah refers to the Land of Israel as a “land flowing with milk and honey.” The commentary Rashi explains that “milk” refers to goat’s milk, while “honey” refers to “any sweet juice of a fruit.”

In Midarkai Hailanos we are taught that the Ramban, or Nachmanides, understands “‘a land flowing with milk and honey’ as the highest of praise:  It is a good land, its air is good and pleasant for people, and every good thing can be found in it…Its fruit are so plump and sweet that the land runs with their honey.” While Rabbenu Bachyei “insists that ‘all the praises of the Land allude to the Torah itself…’ Even the air of Eretz Yisrael, say our Chachamim, has the capacity to make one wiser. In Rabbenu Bachyei’s opinion this is the ‘milk and honey’ of Eretz Yisrael.”

Our love of and connection to the Land of Israel is as old as our people itself. Israel and Jerusalem hold the deepest religious significance for Jews.  Although there are those who keep trying to deny this connection, as well as, politicize Jerusalem, this land and city, which are the objects of our eternal love, will never be a political issue.  On the contrary, Israel, the land which bears our name, and Jerusalem, our eternal capital, are the very soul of the Jewish People.

Israel is the religious and spiritual center of the Jewish world. There has been a continuous Jewish presence in the Land of Israel from ancient times until today. The centrality of the Land of Israel to the Jewish people cannot be overstated. Over the millennia, many conquerors tried to absorb Israel within their empires; but in all of these attempts, the land of Israel remained the country of our people, and Jerusalem has served as the capital of only one nation – that of our Jewish nation.

My Tu B’Shvat Resolution

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

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)


Photo credit: Yaakov Naumi/Flash90

Photo credit: Yaakov Naumi/Flash90

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.

Mini-Forest to be Planted in Tel Aviv on Tu B’Shvat

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Three-meter-long trees will be placed at Rabin Square to create a mini-forest in the center of Tel Aviv on Tu B’Shvat, which falls on Thursday this year.

Pupils from all over the city will come to celebrate the holiday by writing their wishes for this year and hanging them on the trees.

Traditionalists can still plant trees in events throughout the country sponsored by the Jewish National Fund (JNF). The age of high-tech now enables people to “plant” a tee via a “click and plant” (and pay) program on the JNF’s website.

An ecological element has been added to the holiday in recent years with an emphasis on conservation.

Dried fruits are popular in Israel on Tu B’Shvat, but if you really want to be Zionist, you might have to stay away from the dried figs unless you can find the few that actually are picked and processed in Israel and not Turkey.

Those who want a trial run for the Passover Seder, or simply want to follow the Kabbalistic custom from the 16th or 17th century, can sit down with four cups of wine or grape juice for the Tu B’Shvat Seder, compiled by the Kabbalists from Tsfat (Safed).

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/mini-forest-in-tel-aviv-to-be-planted-on-tu-bshvat/2014/01/15/

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