As the Jewish mid winter holiday of Tu B’Shvat approaching (Jan. 28th this year) memories are coming back of when I was a child in elementary school in Israel. The mood was always festive with exciting preparations being made for the holiday.
Tu B’Shvat was quite a big deal especially since we didn’t have regular classes. Instead there were ceremonies in a big park where singing and dancing teams from schools all around Tel Aviv competed for first place. The songs were always about the Jewish people returning back to our land to rebuild it. While most of us boys didn’t care about watching the performers the day outdoors away from books was always fun.
After the competitions we would be taken by bus to the outskirts of the city where the land was still barren. Each of us would be given a small plant. While planting was done according to the strict instructions of the teacher, getting our hands and clothes dirty was always the best part.
Looking back at this childhood memory I realize the significance of these Tu B’shvat events which we experienced throughout our school years.
Tu B’Shvat indeed is the expression of Jewish love and appreciation for Mother Earth. It is a reminder of how delicate and vulnerable Mother Earth really is. It is a reminder to reestablish ourselves as the custodians of this beautiful planet home and all of its inhabitants. Tu B’Shvat reminds us that we have a G-DLY mandate to oversee Earth but not to do with it as we wish. Earth is not a human playground to spoil.
But there is more. For we as Jews, Tu B’Shvat is the supreme expression of our connection to our land, all of the land.. . It is a reminder that the Jewish land of Israel is just as important as the Torah itself. G-D sanctified it and gave it to us centuries before he gave us the Torah. In fact a significant number of the Torah‘s laws are directly related to the land. This means that we cannot observe the Torah’s laws in full without the holy land of Israel.
TuB’Shvat is a yearly reminder that the Jewish people, the land of Israel and the people of Israel are one and the same.
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