Tu B’Shevat: Getting a Head Start

garden

Rose bush and orange tree

The garden in my front yard is blossoming: Lemons, oranges, flowers, and a smattering of low-lying plants that are probably weeds; but down the street, Friday afternoon soccer games are played on fields of asphalt. In this climate which induces sand and dust, I enjoy the greenery.

garden

View from the porch

Outside the city, almond trees are just beginning to blossom. This marks the start of spring, or at least its anticipation. Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish New Year for Trees, begins next week. The date marks not when the trees begin to blossom, but rather when the sap begins to rise in the tree. This has profound implications. Sometimes change is upon us, even when we can’t see the results just yet. Although we have a tendency to view events as independent or to interpret reactions as knee-jerk, most actions and emotions are part of a cycle, a larger process.

It’s Friday afternoon and Shabbat is about to begin. Another week has gone and I haven’t written up anything about the parshah. My procrastination doesn’t come from nowhere – it’s an avoidance of some sort of emotion. Maybe I’m afraid I won’t have something good to share? Maybe I feel that I should be spending my time doing something else?

Most of our habits are the result of long patterns of behavior that are not a response to what happened today or even this week, but they go way back. Similarly, if I smile and laugh off an insulting comment or if I snap and get angry, it’s not just a reaction to the comment, it’s a reflection of how I’ve been feeling for a while. Physical injuries demonstrate this as well. Long periods of wear and tear can suddenly manifest themselves in inflammation, fractures or cramps. One bad move may have triggered the pain, but the underlying damage had already been done.

The Jewish calendar has four new years. This, the new year for the trees, is a good time for reflection on how we relate to our surroundings – the environment in terms of nature and our own human nature. I’ve always loved Tu B’Shevat. Intrinsically, I suppose it makes sense. My name is Ilana, meaning “tree,” after all.

This year, I feel that right now marks the beginning of many great opportunities that are just beginning to sprout. For more ideas on how to get a head start on Tu B’Shevat, check out Canfei Nesharim, an organization providing Torah-based resources on the environment.

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ilene

Ilene Rosenblum is a writer and marketing professional living in Jerusalem.

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