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Tu bi’Shevat

01/28/2021 03:36:34 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

The full moon is reliable. We know when it will arrive, and on clear nights it shines from 240,000 miles away. Last night’s full moon cast shadows on the snow as Lucky and I walked around the block.

The holiday of Tu bi’Shevat also arrives reliably on the full moon of the month of Shevat. (Tu bi’Shevat means the fifteenth of Shevat.) It is the “new year for trees,” related to when the ancient Israelites would calculate their schedule of tithing. We celebrate the land of Israel for on Tu bi’Shevat  and, like most of our ancient holidays, we have stretched Tu bi’Shevat to encompass additional themes.

For instance, we have imbued Tu bi’Shevatbi’Shevat with environmental themes and, indeed, Jewish tradition conveys a mandate that we be shomrei ha’adamah, preservers of the earth.

This message cannot be more pressing. We face manifold existential environmental hazards, from climate change to plastics (which we are ingesting, by the way, all of us, every day) to habitat loss and mass extinction to toxic waterways. The vast majority of reputable scientists in these fields agree on the necessity for urgent action. So, while we take for granted the full moon each month, we better not take for granted the health of our natural environment. The question is: what will each of us do about it?

I won’t go through the dozens of actions each of us can take, but I would be happy to talk to you about it. But please consider the changes you might make – from car purchases to plastic bags to tzedekah – in order to do your part to shomrei ha’adamah.

Happy Tu bi’Shevat.

Rabbi Jeffrey Weill

Tue, August 3 2021 25 Av 5781