If my dear friend Gary Levine wouldn’t have sent me an awfully hippie Tu B’shvat text message yesterday there is no way I would have known it was time for the holiday of the trees. It just so happens to be that I was mountain biking at Wilder Ranch off the Pacific Coast near Santa Cruz yesterday and there’s this one trail called Enchanted Forest loop which dips down into this amazing little redwood grove and eventually some towering euclyptus, I davened mincha in that little canyon thinking of the beauty and it just so happens that I had a bag of dried mangoes and blueberries from Trader Joes – does that mean I celebrated Tu B’shvat without knowing – thereby getting an accidental mitzvah?
In truth, Tu B’shvat is one of those holidays that doesn’t really exist in most frum folks psyche, it is remembered in my mind because Manhattan Day School would take us to Central Park and we would eat carob and other dried fruits, but the only reason any Jewish person knows what carob is, is because of day school Tu B’shvat celebrations.
It seems that non-religious Jews are more into Tu B’shvat because they can use it as an excuse to talk about the environment, eating organic food and ethical treatment of workers who pick your food – great – but, it’s about the new year for the trees, not the underpaid illegal immigrants picking your food in the central valley of California.
Some folks have a Tu B’shvat seder, I do recall chabad houses always doing something (they probably skip tachnun)and then some shuls will have some sort of kiddush with dried fruit, speaking of dried fruit I’ve been thinking about preservation methods and have decided to move beyond my pickling and sun dried tomatoes (just put in an oven at 200 degrees for a really long time) Maybe dried fruit is next?
What are your thoughts on Tu B’shvat?