Tu BiShvat, called the "New Year of the Trees," falls at a seemingly incongruous time of year.
Tu BiShvat is a minor festival whose provenance dates only to the time of the Second Temple. However, the kabbalists who clustered around the great fifteenth-century mystic Isaac Luria of Safed placed great weight on the holiday, creating new festivities, gatherings at which hymns were sung, fruit (particularly carob) was eaten, and four cups of wine were taken (as in the Passover seder).
While we have been having a relatively warm winter in the United States, it cannot compare to what winter is like in Israel. It is the rainy season there, the time of year that Israel greens up, with cooler temperatures and rain (which feels like a miracle every time I experience it) in between
In a few weeks we will be celebrating Tu BiSh’vat. There are numerous approaches you could take in planning your celebration.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that it can be difficult to be Jewish at Christmas time. It has seeped into North American cultural consciousness so thoroughly that South Park even wrote a song about it, complete with trademark expletives.
Winter weighs on the soul of this author. She finds comfort, though, in the moon cycles and their symbols, laden with meaning, healing, comfort, and inspiration.
When our ancestors experienced darkness, they lit a fire. Today, as we battle apathy in response to fear and doubt, we seek direction in light.
Everyone loves to participate in a Pesach seder. But did you know that there is an opportunity to celebrate a different seder about two months earlier?