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Four thoughts for Tu B’Shvat

חקלאות בעוטף עזה
חקלאות בעוטף-עזה. ירוק מול שחור, אור מול חושך

Tonight (Wednesday) and tomorrow (Thursday) is Tu B'Shvat, the holiday of the trees. What does this mean, specifically this year?

1. We returned to nature, to the roots. Israel is not only a high-tech powerhouse. We can't spend our whole lives going from the mall to the parking lot, from the elevator to the car. We have a deep connection to this place, to this precious land. And suddenly we realize that every farmer on the southern and northern borders is a hero, and everyone volunteers and comes to help them.

2. Believe in the process. Tu B’Shvat reminds us that we need patience in life. If we want things to grow and blossom, it takes time and we need to invest. Nature teaches us that we must sow and plant and water and then wait, and also pray and hope, because it is a process. The fight against evil also takes time. And anything meaningful - whether it’s building a relationship, educating children or learning Torah - does not happen instantly. You have to take a deep breath, believe and keep going. In the end everything will grow.

3. Mid-year report cards. On Tu B’Shvat in Israel, report cards are handed out in the schools marking the middle of the school year. This year, millions of report cards of excellence should be handed out - to teachers, administrators, parents, students, kindergarteners and all involved in helping to provide an education to our children. Thank you very much. A few days ago I visited a school that opened in Jerusalem for the children from the south. They should all receive "commendation" in the important areas of life: flexibility, faith, creativity, hope and renewal.

4. A teacher once told me there are four words that, unfortunately, characterize our era: “I,” “here,” “now,” and “everything.” Therefore Tu B’Shvat, which is celebrated today, is one of the most important days of the year. It stands in opposition to these four words.

The festival of trees is not celebrated in the spring but in the winter. Not at the time when everything is flowering and ripening, but at a time when we do not see much of anything. We do not celebrate what we have here and now, but are content to wait. Instead, at this moment, we need to plant, to water, to toil, to believe, and to hope.

Contemplation of nature reminds us that there are slow and hidden processes at work, that life also develops beneath the surface, that we do not always see immediate results and therefore we must nurture what is growing and be patient.

This is true in children’s education, in marriage, in study, and in every other meaningful area of life. This is especially true in our current struggle with Hamas and with the evil in the world. At a time when we wait impatiently to see two blue check marks next to our WhatsApp message, we get a reminder once a year regarding what is most important: patience, steady effort, commitment, devotion. All of these ultimately bring the desired results, the fruits of our labors.

Happy Tu B’Shvat.


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