Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Savoring the Bounty

Blossoming Almond Tree
Happy Tu b'Shevat! You just knew I'd post something today, didn't you? But you don't know how much I've been thinking about what to post. There are so many ways to go with this wonderful, mystical, meaningful day - the 15th of Shevat; the New Year for Trees...

Should I reminisce about last Tu b'Shevat - indeed, the entire month of Shevat - which Bill and I merited to spend in Israel last year or shall I tell you about the
Tu b'Shevat Seder in which I participated this year with the lovely ladies of my recent JWRP trip? The Tu b'Shevat Seder has its ancient mystical origins in the holy city of Tzefat where Bill and I enjoyed such a special Shabbos right after Tu b'Shevat last year. For a detailed explanation of the Tu b'Shevat Seder, presented by the "Women of the Waters" of Tzefat, click here.

I could blog about each of the Seven Species (wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranate, olives and dates) for which the Land of Israel is praised or try to offer some Kabbalistic concepts about peels, shells and pits of all fruits and nuts. But maybe I'll just show you the spread that I prepared for the Tu b'Shevat seudah (festive meal) we enjoyed right here in our humble home this evening.
Click on the photo to enlarge it and try to find all seven species as well as the almonds which remind us of the shkeydiah porachat, the almond trees that are blossoming all over Israel right now. (I can't resist including this Tu b'Shevat "theme song". I never knew it had more than one stanza! Click here for Hebrew lyrics and English translation.) The fact that this is a Shemittah (Sabbatical) year gives an added dimension to this Tu b'Shevat but I'll save that for another post.

Actually, most of this can be summed up with a short quote from an article I read this morning: "...The custom (on Tu b'Shevat) is to eat fruit specifically of Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel)...to cause us to think about Eretz Yisrael and have more chavivus (love) for it." That's enough for me right there. Eat the fruits in order to Remember Israel - and Jerusalem, of course. As we ask G-d in the blessing we recite after eating any of the seven species: "Bring us up into (Jerusalem), gladden us in its rebuilding and let us eat from its fruit and be satisfied with its goodness..." AMEN!

And now I will share some photos that I took last Shevat at the Machane Yehuda shuk (market). I hope I am correctly quoting Rabbi Sholom Gold when I suggest that "If you want to hear G-d, read the Torah; if you want to see G-d, go to the Machane Yehuda shuk."

Savor the bounty, remember the Land and...

...Have a Very Happy Tu b'Shevat!