January Weather Stinks But We Still Celebrate Tu B'Shvat
Forecast here calls for snow. 27 degrees outside. And that's just the mid-Atlantic United States! Imagine all those Jews in New York and Boston!
It certainly doesn't feel like we should be getting ready to celebrate trees, yet here we are. Tu B'Shvat's a' comin' on January 22, 2019. (Along with a lot of apostrophes.)
Tu B'Shvat honors the "new year" of trees. Some people think it's a minor holiday, but we think it's a real tree-t. Here in the US, our trees are mostly bare except in the south and west -- not including evergreens. In Israel, this is the time of year when the early bloomers start bearing fruit.
Why do we celebrate this holiday? A brief history lesson from Proud Jews.
By law, ancient Israelites had to bring certain harvests to the temple. This included fruits and other products of trees. The amount they had to bring varied by year. This wasn't hard to track for grains and vegetables. But trees bear fruit on a different cycle. You couldn't simply use Rosh Hashana as your cut-off because it would come in the middle of the some trees' fruit-bearing season and make it hard for people to account for their contributions. Sometimes they'd have to split the harvest in two, other times their harvest would come too early and go bad before they could bring it to Jerusalem, other times they'd have two years worth of fruit in one year but none in the next.
To fix this problem, somebody decided to count the year differently for fruits. From November to January most trees are bare. By counting the new year before the trees bloom again, you didn't have to worry about complex accounting. Pretty much all your contribution would fall within this "tree" year.
Ok, that's boring, let's have fun. Sing along with these guys!