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February 09, 1990 - Image 7

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-02-09

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

OPINION

B'Shevat Holiday:
Holiday of Unification

DR. JOSEPH P. STERNSTEIN

oming as it does in
the depths of our cold
season, during the
barren stretch of winter be-
tween the joyous lights of
Chanukah and the merry-
making of Purim, Tu
B'Shevat, tends to fade in
significance. To many it is a
paltry Jewish Arbor Day.
Give your dollars to Jewish
National Fund, receive a cer-
tificate, and your observance
of Tu B'Shevat is complete. In
fact, many people believe that
without the JNF, Tu B'Shevat
would be virtually unknown
to a majority of Jews.
But what an egregious over-
sight of Jewish tradition and
history this attitude
represents. What a missed op-
portunity for enlightenment
and enrichment from a holi-
day that should embrace us
all in its unifying power.
What a sorry disregard for a
special day that reminds us of
our unity as a people forever
joined in a sacred destiny,
bound in perpetuity to our
ancestral homeland.
How can the "New Year of
the Trees" bear such weighty
significance? Why, in fact, a
new year for trees? In
Leviticus 19:23, God com-
mands, "When you enter the
land and plant any tree for
food, you shall regard its fruit
as forbidden. Three years it
shall be forbidden for you .. .
In the fourth year all its fruit
shall be set aside for jubila-
tion before the Lord and only
in the fifth year you may use
its fruit, that its yield to you
may be increased."
So the 15th of Shevat was
proclaimed Rosh Hashanah
Lailanot, the New Year of the
trees, to assist the farmer in
calculating the ages of the
trees in his orchard. This
practice, as implied in the
passage cited, is sound
agricultural methodology,
since its implementation in-
creases yields from fruit trees.
This simple explanation,
however, belies the significant
concepts which the practices
of Tu B'Shevat denote. Just as
the principles of the
agricultural shemittah, or
sabbatical year and the
jubilee year safeguard the
land and insure provision for
the poor, the Tu B'Shevat
precepts reveal how Jewish
law not only reflects sound

Rabbi Sternstein is honorary
president of the Jewish
National Fund of America.

agrarian method, but rein-
forces the concept that we
hold the bounty of God's
nature in trust. (Indeed, this
concept of holding the entire
land in trust is the basis for
JNF's, and Israel's, pro-
gressive land ownership and
land use policies.)
As such, our respon-
sibilities do not end with pro-
viding for ourselves and our
families. Our proper
maintenance of one of God's
most beautiful gifts to
mankind, trees, helps
guarantee the continuation of
their yield for generations to
come, and fulfills the promise
implied when we accept the
valued trust. Within the Tu
B'Shevat laws is acknow-
ledgement of God's role in
binding the Jewish people to
their land and its resources.
We thus pay tribute to God to
remind ourselves of His great
gifts of life and sustenance.
Our holy writings are rich
in examples of appreciation of
God's gift of the natural
world, trees in particular. The
rabbis understood the phrase
in Leviticus, "When you enter
the land and plant any tree
. . ." to mean that the people
of Israel should plant trees
immediately upon entering
the land of Canaan. The
Ibrah also instructs us to care
for our natural environment,
even in time of war, as in
Deuteronomy: "When in your
war against a city you must
besiege a long time, you must
not destroy its trees . . ." Rab-
bi Yohanan ben Zakkai said,
"If you should be standing
with a sapling in your hand
when the Messiah arrives,
first finish planting the tree,
then go and greet the
Messiah."
We at JNF are proud of hav-
ing carried out the mitzvah of
tree planting in the 20th cen-
tury in a manner undreamed
of by our forefathers, yet
perfectly consonant with the
guiding principles by which
they preserved and protected
the trees and the environ-
ment of the homeland.
In the early days of the
modern Jewish settlement of
the Land of Israel, JNF's
primary responsibility was
the legal purchase of land in
what was then Palestine, as
the foundation for a
homeland. But even then, the
leaders of JNF were mindful
of the fact that, as David Ben-
Gurion later said, "ownership
is but a precondition to the ac-
tual possession of the land.
The real redemption is in its
Continued on Page 10

CONTENTS

111111 llllllllllll 1 11 11 1111 ll l l l 11101 lllll 11111 lllll

1 1 1111111 1 1 1 1 1 1 111111111111

1111M1111‘,.

24

CLOSE-UP

Tough Cookies

ADRIEN CHANDLER
Women are creating
recipes for success.

46

SPORTS

Best Job

SUSAN WEINGARDEN
The Pistons' ball boys
don't see it as work.

50

BUSINESS

On The Flipside

50

KIMBERLY LIFTON
Some business professionals
maintain two careers.

71

ENTERTAINMENT

Boys' Night Out

STEVE HARTZ
Student and teacher reverse
roles around the TV camera.

87

EDUCATION

Passport
To Knowledge

SUSAN GRANT
A teacher-artist-poet
brings her talents to Detroit.

90

FOCUS

Freedom Wind

87

EDWARD SEROTA
The Jews of Czechoslovakia
are a focal point of courage.

PROFILE

Traveling Preacher

94

JENNIFER GUBKIN
What's a girl from W. Bloomfield
doing in Mississippi twice a month?

DEPARTMENTS

20
28
37
42
82
86

Notebook
Inside Washington
Insight
Synagogues
Fine Arts
On Campus

96
98
102
106
112
132

Lifestyles
Engagements
Births
Single Life
Classified Ads
Obituaries

CANDLELIGHTING

94

5:39 p.m.
Friday, February 9, 1990
Sabbath ends Feb. 10 6:43 p.m.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

7

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