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Late in the evening of September 28, 2009, following very introspective and rewarding Yom Kippur services at Congregation Ohabai Shalom in Nashville, I took a hot shower and then stood, wrapped in a towel, in front of the bathroom mirror. As I brushed my teeth, I reflected on my experience of this most prayerful of days, when Jews throughout the world come to grips with their mistakes and seek atonement.
It is very hard to say you are sorry – and even harder to really mean it. It is not any easier to truly forgive.
The melody that stirs the heart of Ashkenazic Jews is of unknown origin, but is part of a body of music known as "MiSinai melodies" that emerged in Germany between the 11th and 15th centuries.
The Jewish mystics of the 17th century, the Kabbalists, created a special ritual—modeled after the Passover seder—to celebrate God's presence in nature. Today in modern Israel, Tu BiShvat has become a national holiday, a tree planting festivaTu BiShvat is not mentioned in the Torah. Scholars believe the holiday was originally an agricultural festival, corresponding to the beginning of spring in Israel. But a critical historical event helped Tu BiShvat evolve from a simple celebration of spring to a commemoration of our connection to the land of Israel. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E. and the exile that followed, many of the exiled Jews felt a need to bind themselves symbolically to their former homeland. Tu BiShvat served in part to fill that spiritual need. Jews used this time each year to eat a variety of fruits and nuts that could be obtained from Israel. The practice, a sort of physical association with the land, continued for many centuries.l for both Israelis and Jews throughout the world
Although the celebration of Tu BiShvat has a long and varied history, the theme most commonly ascribed to the holiday today is the environment.