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A Historic Progressive Conservative Congregation in Valley Village, CA
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A Historic Progressive Conservative Congregation in Valley Village, CA

Tu B'Shevat

02/05/2020 09:50:12 AM


Eric Chafetz


This week we will celebrate Tu B’Shvat, one of the four Jewish New Years (Mishnah Rosh HaShanah 1:1).  Tu B’Shvat is the unofficial birthday of the trees and while it may seem like the time of year to bake a cake and go sing to the tree in your front yard the origins of this “birthday” have a more practical purpose. 

 “When you enter the land [of Israel] and plant any tree for food, you shall regard its fruit as forbidden. Three years it shall be forbidden for you, not to be eaten” (Leviticus 19:23).   

The farmers needed a benchmark to know when three years had passed and they were able to eat their harvests.  

There is a famous story in the Talmud that we often tell on Tu B’Shvat of Honi the circle maker.  One day Honi was walking down the road and saw a man planting a carob tree. He asked the man how long the tree would take to produce carobs and the man answered that it would take 70 years.  Honi then asked the man, “And do you think you will live another seventy years and eat the fruit of this tree?” The man answered, “Perhaps not. However, when I was born into this world, I found many carob trees planted by my father and grandfather. Just as they planted trees for me, I am planting trees for my children and grandchildren so they will be able to eat the fruit of these trees.”  Every day that we think proactively about how we can be better not only benefits this generation, but also sets the stage for making this world an even better place for future generations.

This holiday is not just about celebrating trees or counting down the days until we can eat from them.  It is about mindfulness, the act of being aware at each step of our actions. Aware of the various entities that align to make our actions possible and being grateful that we are able to utilize those entities.  In this week’s Parsha (B’Shalach) we find Shir haShirim (Song of songs), the music that filled the Israelites hearts when they were free from Egypt.  This includes a common text from our liturgy (Mi Chamocha) where we ask “Who is like you Adonai?”. The Israelites were so full of gratitude from gaining their freedom that they literally sang about how grateful they were.  As we go into Shabbat and prepare for Tu B’Shvat, I invite you all to reflect on the things in your lif that you are grateful for and how those things came to be and if you want to sign about it then feel free!

Shabbat Shalom,


Sun, March 29 2020 4 Nisan 5780