Coming a month and a half before the spring equinox and two months before Passover, Tu BiShvat provides a glimmer of springtime at a time when winter can often be at its cruelest.
Rabbi Shimon fled to the cave to escape a death sentence for publicly criticizing Roman culture. According to folk tradition, during his twelve years of isolation, he engaged in mystical meditation and wrote the Zohar, the central work of Kabbalah.
Derived from central Europe, the popular kichlach (Yiddish for "cookies") are to be found in many of the packages prepared by parents for their children serving in the Israeli military.
One favorite dish of the Ashkenazim that survived the move from the shtetl to North America was the hearty mushroom-potato-barley soup called krupnick.
The mechanism to connect the Exodus with the giving of the Torah is a simple one-counting the days.