Leora asked a number of Israeli bloggers – including yours truly - to share some thoughts on Tu B’Shvat. Here’s what I came up with:
Growing up in the States, Tu B'Shvat was simply a day to eat (or, more likely, NOT to eat... :-)) a bit of tasteless dry fruit - typically, the ubiquitous and rather unappetizing "bukser" (dried carob) – and perhaps sing a few listless rounds of “Eretz Chitah U’Se’orah,” a song extolling the Shivat HaMinim (the Seven Species):
“A Land of wheat and barley and grapevine and fig and pomegranate; a Land of oil-producing olives and date-honey.” (Devarim 8:8)
But here in Israel, Tu B'Shvat is so much more than that. </reason #7811 for making aliyah>
On a practical level, according to the Talmud, Tu B’Shvat marks the beginning of the new agricultural year – which has halachic significance for those of us who are fortunate to have fruit trees in our backyards – and in many schools, it marks the beginning of the spring semester.
Tu B’Shvat is also the day when kids across the country head outdoors and plant trees, and it’s the day when many families celebrate lovely Tu B’Shvat Seders.
But mainly, Tu B'Shvat is a time to appreciate Eretz Yisrael and its myriad incredible blessings.
It’s a time to thank Hashem for the privilege of living here in this beautiful Land and having the ability to fulfill the mitzvot hat’luyot baAretz (a special category of mitzvot which can only be observed in Eretz Yisrael).
On most days, we’re so busy living life that we forget to stop and recognize all the amazing wonders which surround us here in Israel.
Tu B’Shvat is a perfect opportunity to do just that.
Happy Tu B’Shvat!
For more Tu B’Shvat reflections, be sure to check out Leora's post.