Jewish communities around the world marked the "new year for the trees" last week with tree planting ceremonies and seders that celebrate Israel's seven species (wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates if you are keeping track!).
While my neighbors were putting their Christmas trees to the curb, in what seems like a ritual of replacement, I was preparing to plant for Tu BiShvat.
Tu BiShvat is a reminder that we spend our lives planting seeds. Time and effort are needed for our efforts to bear fruit. Wait patiently. One day, like the seed, we will be blessed.
By Joshua Weinberg
“And when you come into the Land, and have planted all manner of food bearing trees… (Lev. 19:23) The Holy one Blessed be he said to the people Israel: Even though you have found [the land] full of plenty, you shall not say: We shall sit and not plant, rather proceed with caution in your planting… For as you have entered and found the fruits of others’ labor, you so shall plant for your children. (Midrash Tanhuma)
If you’re like me, then you may remember that pivotal moment of Jewish education when you received your very own Jewish National Fund (JNF) certificate for a tree planted in Israel. Whether it was for a birth, birthday, bar/bat mitzvah, or in memory of a loved one, a tree was planted in Israel to mark the occasion. The message was clear: with every passing milestone we want to connect Jews to the Land of Israel and to the Zionist enterprise. All of us who were the fortunate recipients of such trees knew in the recesses of our mind that somewhere in that strip of land, in some forest, was our tree, our little piece of Israel. As the certificates read, the JNF wished us the following: “We wish you the fortune of seeing it grow with much pleasure and ease.”
Two years ago, for the first time ever, I didn’t attend a seder. A virulent infection was poisoning my body and I was fighting for my life.
As we mark 50 years since Dr. King was assassinated, and in thinking about his connection with Moses, I’m drawn to Dr. King’s “I’ve Been To the Mountaintop.”
Literally, “egg.” It is an item on the Passover seder plate that represents the Passover sacrifice from biblical times. And, it symbolizes the spring season.
Another vegetable, often romaine lettuce, that appears on the Passover seder plate. Chazeret is used in addition to maror as a bitter herb.
Literally, “It Is Enough for Us.” A seder song of gratitude that recounts many miracles and gifts from God associated with the Exodus story, any one of which “would have been enough.”