Tonight it is Tu B’Shevat; one of those obscure holidays that most people don’t know about and/or don’t know what to do on it (including us Jews). It’s not one of those holidays that has a lot of traditions, rules, or sentimental ties about it. But it is one of the four Jewish “new year” celebrations. In the past I’ve tried to make it a point to consume most (if not all) of the seven species — olives, grapes, figs, dates, wheat, barley, or pomegranate. As of now, I have three out of seven out of the way. It would be nice if I can find some fresh figs…but I’m not holding my breath on it. I’m very thankful for the mild weather we’ve been having lately in that it puts me more in the mood to think of Tu B’Shevat as the Jewish “arbor day”, celebrating the upcoming Spring and recognizing the ongoing cycle of nature.
One new thing that I decided to do this year was pay for a tree to be planted by the JNF (Jewish National Fund). The suggestion to do so was given this past Shabbos in synagogue. It’s something I would have never thought to do on my own…but it makes sense. The JNF planted millions of trees in Israel with the help of donations from Jews everywhere in the State of Israel’s formative years. By planting a tree, you have the opportunity to dedicate it (at no extra charge). I decided to dedicate my tree to Yosef Robinson, HY”D, who was murdered about a year and a half ago.
So as I welcome another Tu B’Shevat, I am thankful for all things new in my life (job, love, apartment) as well as those things that persist (my health, loving family and friends). I’m preparing to move forward, keeping an eye on the past, but no letting the past define me. Thank G-d for his infinite wisdom and guidance…he knows us so much better than we tend to know ourselves!