Even though “Crossing Delancy’s” Sam the Pickle Man and Tu BiShvat both are somewhat predictable, they also are filled with wisdom, poetry, hope, and faith.
May each of us, at this Tu BiShvat – the New Year of the Trees – refuse to be complacent in accepting the ills and sorrows of our lives.
In my past life as a cantor in Los Angeles, I was always facilitating the concept of “Jewish time” for others. Here in Jerusalem, it just sort of happens on its own.
In college, being outdoors and celebrating the natural world was an important part of my spirituality, so I sought out hints that other Jews felt the same way.
The wind and the smell of smoke woke us. We stumbled out of bed, joining neighbors in the cul-de-sac to stare at the red glow lighting up the hills behind our houses.
Thanks to social media and electronic devices you can check in on Foursquare and read the Mishkan T'filah prayer book on a handheld device at the same time. Yet for all the modern inventions, the Torah remains unaffected.
"Tu" (the Hebrew abbreviation of 15th) in the month of Shvat was set (Hillel's opinion generally overrules Shammai's) as the beginning of the tithable year for tree fruit: Calculating the tithe on fruit starts again for fruit that sets after that date.
I’ve come to the conclusion we need to change the date of Simchat Torah. Our Jewish festivals must be re-envisioned as inspirational community gatherings of joyful spiritual Jewish celebration. Every single festival needs to be a time of great community involvement and meaning.