"Different Strokes" published in The Women's Times
Earth and whole stones (Radical Torah repost)

Resources for Tu BiShvat

My friend and colleague Reb David Seidenberg has a beautiful post at The Jew and the Carrot today in celebration of Tu BiShvat (which begins tonight at sundown): Letting the fruit ripen: the blessings of Tu BiShvat. He writes eloquently about the earth-centered spirituality of the Tu BiShvat seder:

Unlike what we do now to our rituals in too many suburban synagogues, when the Kabbalists turned Tu Bish’vat into a spiritual celebration of the Tree of Life, they didn’t forget agriculture and the earth. Rather, for the Kabbalists, a fruit tree was both the ultimate metaphor and manifestation for both the Tree of Life and for the way God’s blessing is manifest in the world. It was and is an image of God, in the full sense of that phrase, uniting heaven and earth through its branches and roots, giving freely of its energy and gifts through its fruit...

Over at his own site, NeoHasid.org, there's a beautiful section of resources for Tu BiShvat, including a one-page haggadah, instructions on how to run a kabbalistic Tu BiShvat seder, and a blessing from the first published Tu BiShvat seder, the 17th century text Pri Etz Hadar ("Fruit of a Goodly Tree") accompanied by a meditation and instructions for how to use the blessing.

If you're considering having a Tu BiShvat seder tonight, I want to highlight what Reb David says at the beginning of his JCarrot post: this can be a seder which is "truly free-form and creative, without any rules about what we are supposed to do or say." The idea behind the seder is simple: to eat fruits and nuts, and in so doing, to elevate the act of eating into an act of consciousness of the divine flow which fills the fruits of earthly trees and which runs through the cycle of the seasons.

That said, if you're the kind of person who likes to have a written roadmap for your ritual experiences, here are a few. At NeoHasid there's a one-page haggadah and a double-sided study sheet featuring dozens of texts (Hasidic, kabbalistic, and midrashic), both available at One-page Haggadah plus more links. COEJL (the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life) has a page of Tu BiShvat resources including a sample Tu BiShvat haggadah. And a few years ago I put online my own haggadah for this holiday's seder, which can be downloaded here: Haggadah for Tu BiShvat [pdf].

May our celebrations of this New Year of the Trees inspire us to treasure the trees among whom we live, to experience gratitude and joy as we eat of their fruits, and to become ever more conscious of the flow of divinity which connects us with the tree of life.

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