Friday, January 29, 2010

Tu B'Shevat is here

The Jewish "New Year for Trees".

The climate's not conducive to tree-planting where I live, but planting trees is very much a part of this holiday (though as it falls on the Sabbath this year, Jews who keep the Sabbath will plant the trees another time).

Soon I'll light the Sabbath candles, then go to synagogue, and then to the first Tu B'Shevat Seder I've ever attended (hosted at a local Chabad). In some respects it will resemble a Passover Seder - with people gathered at the table eating special foods and discussing the meaning (or rather meanings) of the day, and telling stories from Jewish texts and from their personal lives. There will be an array of wines, a large sampling of fruits, including the Seven Species - figs, dates, pomegranates, olives, grapes, wheat and barley (the last two as bread and cake).

Tu B'Shevat marks the day according to which the ages of different trees are determined (this is for purposes of tithing, and because a part of each tithe is donated to the poor, charity is also an important part of the day).

After a hectic week I'm looking forward to a day of contemplation, savoring, appreciation, and warmth. There's Tu B'Shevat, and also that wonderful constant in my life - the Sabbath.

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