When people ask me what allows for Jewish culture to thrive, generation after generation, despite any of our past or present challenges, there is one clear asset which manifests consistently: adaptability. Our ability to adapt our ancient wisdom to new scenarios, to adapt our lifestyles to new environments, to adapt our historic customs to contemporary applications, and so forth, has allowed for our ancestors and ourselves to maintain a connection to the past while forging ahead into the future. Adaptability allows for us to use our curiosity and creativity to maintain our tradition as meaningful and relevant. To my mind, there is no holiday in the Jewish calendar that embodies adaptability more than Tu B’Shevat.
Once merely a marker of Midwinter Full Moon, by the 1st century CE our Mishnah records Tu B’Shevat as a tax day by which to calculate tithes. Laying in the dormancy of exile for centuries, Tu B’Shevat reemerges as a mystical journey in the hands of the Kabbalists of Tzfat in the 16th century. Kept in the esoteric practices of the Kabbalists and Hasidim until the modern era, Tu B’Shevat regrows in the State of Israel as a celebration of growing a new society in our ancient land. Today, Tu B’Shevat is proving itself rich for exploration as a celebration of environmental consciousness and stewardship.
I love Tu B’Shevat because not only because it highlights the culture of adaptability that provides me with so much inspiration, but also because it provides an entry point for most any person in Jewish communities throughout the world. Whether recognized as a marker of the relationships between space and time, as a celebration of our ancient connections to the Land of Israel, as a meaningful ritual experience, as an intellectual or philosophical curiosity, as a moral and ethical imperative, or as any and all of these and more, Tu B’Shevat is an ideal opportunity to connect with family, friends, and community, to deepen our connection to Torah and Jewish values, Jewish culture, and the future of Jewish communities.
In my offerings as Rabbi in Residence at the Farm 2 Table Tu B’Shevat, I am looking forward to delving deeply into how this day is connected to the rest of the Jewish calendar and how it connects us to the Jewish calendar. We will also invest time to understand what Tu B’Shevat teaches us about Shmita (the agricultural Sabbatical year) and how those lessons can impact our personal and communal lives. In many ways, Tu B’Shevat reminds us of living in an interconnected and interdependent world, and with that in mind, we will take some time to look at how Jewish communities can join together to have a greater impact on protecting our environment for future generations.
Add a fun, interesting, family-friendly holiday into a recipe with delicious and healthy food, incredible teachers, a beautiful venue with inspiring surroundings, (and YOU!) then this event becomes something not to miss.
To find out more about Ramah Darom’s Farm 2 Table Tu B’Shevat please click here.