Yitro, (Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law), a priest of Median “…heard of all that God had done for Moses and for Israel…” freeing them from slavery and guiding them through the Sinai wilderness (Ex. 18:1). This notion of hearing/knowing all that God has done is magnified here in Israel throughout the Jewish calendar. Since making Aliyah this past summer our experience observing the Sabbaths and holy days have been unlike any other, and here comes Tu B’Shvat. My friend and colleague Esther hit the nail on the head in her Tu B’Shvat email: “…I love that you can always tell what holiday it is here by what’s on sale at the supermarket (There are already hamentaschen out for Purim…). The almond trees are beginning to bloom and flowers are popping up everywhere… And the best news is that the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) has risen over 62 centimeters since the beginning of January (@-212.99m, 1cm above the lower red line)… I am always reminded of my childhood on Tu B’Shvat… We received baggies tied with twisties filled with really dried fruit and there was always yucky dried up carob and I never really got it. WHY did we have to eat this and WHAT did it have to do with Israel and WHY did it taste so bad? I think I get it now. And the fruit tastes great here!”
Thank you Esther, I get it now too. I think of my ancestors who dreamt of a return to Zion, who celebrated Tu B’Shvat in the freezing weather as it is in Eastern Europe, or somewhere else in the world. How difficult it must have been to imagine the “Shkedia Porachat”, the Almond Tree bloom or flowers blossom, in the dead of winter; and I think to myself – Ein li eretz acheret… I have no other land.
Thank you Yitro, the Median Priest, who reminds us of all that is great and holy in our world – davka this week during Tu B’Shvat as we witness the nature of things – here in Israel. Tu B’Shvat h’giya hag la’ilanot!