Posts Tagged 'Tu B’Shvat'

Tu B’Shvat Time: Turning the Corner

I am sure that I am not alone in my experience of time being distorted during Covid and the Trump Administration. I have the peculiar feeling that a day lasts a week, but in retrospect a week passes in what feels like a day. I often have had the feeling we are stuck in an endless road trip. I find myself peering out the window looking for road signs. I am waiting to see any indication that we are getting closer to the off ramp from this highway. And did I mention I have to pee?

Colorado Changes 420 Mile Marker Sign to Ward Off Heists

With vaccines in circulation, it seems that we might turn the corner on Covid-19 at some point. Since the shockingly peaceful transfer of power on Inauguration day, it feels these Bernie Memes are road signs indicating that we are almost there.

With the advent of Tu B’Shvat, the New Year for the Trees, we get our first glimpse of spring. We see the end of the school year and the start of the camp season are on the horizon.  In the Chasidic community, there is a custom where some pickle or candy their etrog (citron) from Sukkot and eat it on Tu B’Shvat. The Bnei Yissaschar, 19th Century Chassidic master, shares an interesting lesson. He teaches:  

On Tu B’Shevat one should pray for a beautiful, perfect, kosher etrog at the time it is needed for the mitzva. This is the day when the sap rises in the trees according to the merits of each member of Israel, and how good and pleasant it is that one pray on this day, the foundational moment of new growth. (Shevat, Discourse 2:2

We should plan in Sukkot for Tu B’Shvat and pray on Tu B’Shvat for an etrog for Sukkot. If we plan and pray we will be rewarded with sweetness and beauty.  There is splendor in this practice that is inviting us to be intention with our time year-round. What an important lesson to awaken us from the malaise of our Covid stupor. That itself seems to be something important to learn for our current situation. This attunement is a Covid-Keeper- something I would like to keep long after Covid is vanquished.

Have a wonderful time on Tu B’Shvat- Shana Tova 

What is Driving Us?

This week we will celebrate Tu B’shvat the New Year for the Trees. While Rosh HaShanah is our yearly check in on how we have been as people in the previous year, Tu B’Shvat has come to be our yearly check in on how we have been to the environment. I have to be honest in saying that I have not been that good this past year.

When I reflect on the course that we are on, I am fearful that we are imitating this week’s Torah portion. Like Pharaoh, we have hardened our hearts. We are unwilling to imagine a different way of living. Will we drive ourselves to the bottom of our seas looking for fossil fuels?

In Pharaoh’s manic search for the escaping Israelite slaves he drives his chariots in to the dried up bed of the Red Sea. But, even before God brings down the walls of water, the wheels come off. Even if they wanted to turn around and get out, it is too late. Rashi comments that it was the heat from God’s Pillar of fire that melted the wheels off. What is the point of no return for our society? Are we doomed to collapse? What is driving us?

This year for Tu B’Shvat, let us all think about ways in which we can change our lives and help the world around us. This is the only world we have, there is no spare. It is not a good time to get  stuck with a flat tire.

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