Sunday, February 12, 2006

Tu Bishvat Sameach (Happy New Year Beit Hillel*)

*I don’t mean Hillel in the Kraft Center sense, in fact they cancelled the holiday for snow. Sorry, that was low.


Tonight we had a Tu Bishvat Seder. For those of you unfamiliar, it is a holiday that celebrates the new year of rendering ages for trees. This is important because you cannot eat from a fruit tree in its first three years, in the fourth year (and in Israel after separating and sanctifying the various tithes) you may finally eat of them. We celebrate Tu Bishvat with a seder, similar to the Passover seder, in that there are four cups of wine, but that is where the similarity ends. It is much more in tune with nature than the supernatural occurrences discussed at Passover. The best feature: NO FREEZE-DRIED FRUIT!!! Yes, there were dates and pomegranates and avocados and clementines that were so very fresh.


A remark about one particular clementine; a poor, poor clementine. A blemished clementine was passed around for about 15 minutes as everyone in the room spoke about how this clementine came to be here. It was hilarious how everyone tried to outdo each other. The prize for funniest comment I think has to go to the Rosh Yeshiva himself, Rabbi Daniel Landes who said something like “I came upon this clementine when on an Russian gold expedition to the California coast”. Instead of going sequentially, which I believe was the initial task, most comments began with “but before that”. Mine began “In the beginning God created Heaven and Earth and all kind of fruit-bearing tree and saw that it was good… except He had it out for this particular fruit and deemed to make this poor blemished clementine miserable”. Yeah, there were about 100 such comments.


One minor thing that didn’t make such a huge difference was that they reversed the colors of the wines. In the traditional Tu Bishvat seder (an oxymoron, perhaps?), you go white wine, pink wine (white with a drop of red), rose wine (half and half), and red wine for the order of the four cups of wine, representing the blooming from the white and barren winter to the reds of spring when flowers and trees bloom.


As for my friends currently in New York City in the Blizzard, I feel for you, I really do. I shall pour one down for my homies in Manhattan when I am tanning on a beach by the Red Sea in Eilat sipping a margarita. No, I don’t think that will happen, but I am leaving a potential snow in Jerusalem to travel on a three day tiyul to Eilat.


The only song I really know regarding this holiday, and the horrible rhyming “translation”


השקדיה פורחת
ושמש פז זורחת
צפורים מראש כל גג
מבשרות את בוא החג

2 X
ט"ו בשבט הגיע
חג לאילנות

הארץ משועת
הגיעה עת לטעת
כל אחד יקח לו עץ
באתים נצא חוצץ

2 X
ט"ו בשבט הגיע
חג לאילנות

Tu Bi'Shevat is Here

The almond tree is growing,
golden sun is glowing;
The birds sing out in joyous glee
From every roof and every tree.


Tu Bi'Shevat is here,
Jewish Arbor Day.
Hail the trees**: New Year,

Let's make the land a garden,
water from the
And our land will flow once more
With milk and honey, as of yore

**(a little Asheira worship, eh?)


Tu Bishvat Sameach, and enjoy the snow, New York.




Matthew Rutta

Jerusalem, ISRAEL


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