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February 02, 1990 - Image 65

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-02-02

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FEBRUARY 2, 1990

A Toast
To Jewish Living

Bishevat A Variety Of Interpretations



Renee Wohl is director of the
Israel Resource Center and an
instructor at the Agency For Jewish
Education and the author of this
month's To Our Readers. For each
issue of L'Chayim, a rabbi, Jewish
educator or other notable will
present an overview of the issue's

Tu Bishevat, which is
sometimes referred to as a Jewish
arbor day, has been relegated to a
minor status on the Jewish calendar.
Perhaps this is so because it has
no connection to any great historical
event or conflict in the lives of
Jewish people over the ages, unlike
other Jewish holidays such as
Pesach, Shavuot or Rosh
The holiday of Tu Bishevat is an
agricultural one and yet it has
taken on a variety of meanings for
Jews throughout the Diaspora. Jews
in the Diaspora have celebrated Tu
Bishevat and tree planting in the
middle of the winter as a way to
commemorate their relationship and
connection to the land of Israel.
This holiday has helped to fortify
the Jews as a nation and not only
as a religion.
In the Talmud, Tu Bishevat is
referred to as a Rosh Hashanah
Lellanot (a New Year for Trees). It is
one of the four new years
mentioned in the Talmud. This Rosh
Hashanah for trees is likened to the
Rosh Hashanah for humans as a
time when trees are judged. The
winter rain has fallen and the sap in
the trees begins to rise. It is a new
year for trees as the fruit of the
trees begin to form. Our tradition
has viewed Tu Bishevat as a day of
judgement when God decides how
bountiful the fruits of the trees will
be in the coming year. Tu Bishevat
is a harbinger of spring and a time
of renewal.
The Kabbalists have added a
Continued on Page L-8

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Tii Bishevat Offers Another Parenting Opportunity


Lately I have been thinking
about Jewish holidays as
opportunities for specific kinds of
parenting. The high holiday season
offers the opportunity to talk about
the value of saying "I'm sorry."
Chanukah offers time for looking at
the courage it takes to be different
— And, in the famous story of Honi
Ha Maagal and Tu Bishevat, there is
certainly the opportunity to talk
about aging and ultimately death.
Tu Bishevat, the birthday of the
trees, gives us a chance to talk

to kids about trees in several ways.
First, many trees go through obvious
changes during the seasons. The
leaves are born; they grow green;
there is fruit and then, finally fruits
disappear and leaves die and return
to the earth. Fruits leave behind
their seeds so that the new trees
can grow.

That happens yearly, looking at
trees during their lifetime; they are
planted, grow, bear fruit and
ultimately wither and die having
provided shade, ground cover, food
and beauty to the world. They have

left behind seeds to replenish the
earth and sustain their species.
It is not an accident that
throughout Jewish lore trees
symbolize life and knowledge and in
contemporary life we talk about
family trees.

This provides a safe way to talk
to kids about life cycles. Comparing
trees to people and human life
cycles allows parents and children
to have a safe opportunity to talk
about dying. People, too, spring
from seeds, grow, bud and flower

Continued on Page L-2

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