Friday, February 02, 2007

Happy Tree Day

Dry Bones cartoon: Tu B'Shvat.
Yup. Plant a tree and save the world.

Tu B'Shvat (Tu BiShvat, Tu BeShvat, etc.) is a festival that expresses our link to the land of Israel. It's customs started in ancient Israel. Later, after our cruel expulsion from the land, on this holiday we would put the "seven species" of fruits wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates on our tables. A reminder of the land of Israel... and of our hopes to return to it.

Now that we are back home, Tu B'Shvat (the New Year of the Trees) is a day when trees are planted. As the bible commands,(Leviticus 19:23):"And when you shall enter this land, you shall plant fruit-bearing trees".

Midrash Tanhuma comments on this verse :

"you plant trees for your descendants. And let no one say: I am already old, how much longer shall I live? Why should I strive on behalf of others, if tomorrow I may die? Therefore a person may not evade this duty, even if he plants trees in old age, to add to what has already been planted."

This year Tu B'Shvat falls on Shabbat, February 3, 2007... therefore many of the holiday plantings took place yesterday, Thursday, February 1. Other tree-plantings will take place after the close of Shabbat (Saturday night)

We've posted two Tu B'Shvat "golden oldies" this week. One (from 1997) was called Optimism. The other (from 1993) was called Tradition.

Happy Tree Day to us all!

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