torah1

 

  January/February 2023

 

The approach of Tu Bishvat serves as a reminder, a signpost of sorts, which invites our attention to the fact that winter will soon come to an end. Ultimately, these bleak, desolate days of cold will lead to a new season; one of rebirth, spring, sunshine, Passover, renewal, and reawakening. Tu Bishvat holds the promise of new life for the human soul and for nature itself. This minor festival offers us roots to which we must hold fast. Since "change" is life's one constant we must acknowledge that even in the darkest winter moments, there is a true reason for hope.

 

ReformJudaism.org states: "Although Tu Bishvat has a long and varied history, the theme most commonly ascribed to the holiday today is the environment. It is considered a festival of nature, full of wonder, joy, and thankfulness for creation in anticipation of the renewal of the natural world. During this festival, Jews recall the sacred obligation to care for the world, and the responsibility to share the fruits of the earth with all.

 

The Torah expresses a deep concern with trees, harvests, and the natural world, all of which are at the heart of Tu BiShvat. Beginning with the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden all the way through to Deuteronomy’s injunction against destroying fruit trees in times of war, our biblical text is replete with trees, both literal and metaphorical. Indeed, the Torah itself often is referred to as an Etz Chaim (Tree of Life), based on a passage in the Book of Proverbs.