Thursday, January 20, 2011
A Soldier's Mother
20 January '11
My two youngest children are not going to school today and yet what they will learn today is a lesson that will last them all their lives. Like tens of thousands of others, they are going out into a forest to plant trees. That simple. That true.
Today is Tu B'Shevat - it is, though you may laugh, the new year of the trees. We have one - we even have more than one if you count the solar year that begins on January 1st and the lunar year that begins each Rosh Hashana holiday. Why shouldn't the trees have one?
The first year I was in Israel, I finally understood what it means - this new year of the tree. On the exact day (and yes, it was a lucky coincidence that it happened that day and not the day before or after) of that first year in Israel, the almond tree blossoms opened for the first time. It doesn't always happen, but that first year it did. Later, I would learn that it depends on where you are - the warmer it is (near the coast, for example), the trees blossom sooner.
But it didn't matter then. The blossoms were opening - ON Tu B'Shevat. That was Israel - the place where the holidays make sense because they are as much about land as they are about seasons. In America, Jewish holidays come and go with the months of the year; in Israel, they come and go with the land. Passover marks the end of winter, the beginning of Spring. Tu B'Shevat is all about the trees.
So my children go into the forests with their friends - and plant more trees. With this they learn that there are never enough trees in Israel - more than 5 million less this year because of the devastating Carmel fires. So we will do what we have done for the last 100 years. Quietly, without politics, with love - we will plant our land.
They also learn that this land is theirs and build a connection that transcends time. Only our people have cared enough to make the land blossom for its sake, for its beauty. It isn't crops we plant, but trees. Each child has heard the story of Honi (you can read it here).
(Read full "Planting and Complimenting")
If you enjoy "Love of the Land", please be a subscriber. Just put your email address in the "Subscribe" box on the upper right-hand corner of the page.