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  • Writer's picturepinni baumol

Tu - BiShvat, a day for gratitude, sustainability ,plant medicine and our appreciation to the world

Tu B'Shvat, the "New Year for Trees," is a Jewish holiday that celebrates the importance of plants in Jewish culture and the natural world, as well as the legal birthday for all plants, in matters of jewish law.. This holiday is observed on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shvat and is traditionally celebrated and marked by planting trees, eating fruit, especially of the land of israel’s sacred seven plants,, and studying texts related to the significance of trees in Jewish tradition.

In Jewish scripture, trees hold a special place in the cultural and religious consciousness. The idea of the tree is a symbol of growth and life, of man, of the holy scriptures, as well as the connection between the earth and heaven. In the book of Genesis, it is written that Adam, the first human was placed in the Garden of Eden to cultivate and care for the trees. This theme of care and stewardship towards the natural world continues to be a central aspect of Jewish spirituality.

In recent years, Tu B'Shvat has become a time to focus on sustainability and the role of plants in preserving the environment. The celebration of plants and trees is increasingly important as climate change and deforestation become major threats. Planting trees not only symbolizes growth and life but also helps to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, improving air quality and mitigating the impacts of climate change.

Chasidic thought also recognizes the spiritual significance of the forest. Hitbodedut, the practice of communing with God in nature, is often done in the forest, where one can connect with the divine presence in all living beings. This connection to the natural world is an important aspect of Chasidic spirituality, as well as a reminder of the beauty and abundance of life on this earth.

Another important aspect of Tu B'Shvat is the recognition of the healing properties of plants and their role in our lives. For centuries, many cultures have used plant-based remedies to treat a variety of physical and mental health conditions. However, in recent decades, the use of these medicines has been stigmatized due to their association with the war on drugs. On Tu B'Shvat, it is important to destigmatize the use of plant medicines, including psychedelics, and recognize the important role they play in our lives.

Ram Dass, the spiritual seeker, formerly known as jewish psychonaut and psychology professor Richard Alpert, ,has a famous quote which i love, that speaks to this idea of appreciation and non-judgment towards all beings. It is a take on the passage in Deuteronomy ” For man is the tree of the field”: "When you go out into the woods, and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree."

In addition to celebrating the significance of trees and plants, Tu B'Shvat is also a time to consider the spiritual significance of all life on earth. The idea of the “tree of life” represents the interconnectedness of all living beings and the idea that we are all connected to one another through the natural world. This holiday is a reminder of the importance of our connection to the earth and the role that it plays in our spiritual and emotional wellbeing.

In the modern era, the celebration of Tu B'Shvat has taken on new meanings, including the celebration of the environment and sustainability. The holiday is often used as a time to consider the role that we play in caring for the earth and the impact that our actions have on the environment. Whether it is through planting trees, reducing waste, or conserving energy, Tu B'Shvat is a reminder of the importance of being mindful and responsible stewards of the earth.

Finally, Tu B'Shvat is a time for gratitude and appreciation for all that the natural world provides for us. It is a time to be grateful for the beauty and abundance of life on earth, and to recognize the important role that plants and trees play in our lives. Whether it is through planting, studying, or simply appreciating the natural world, Tu B'Shvat is a celebration of the gifts that the earth provides for us and a reminder of our responsibility to care for it.. It is a time to reflect on the importance of growth and sustainability, to destigmatize the use of plant medicines, and to be grateful for the abundance of fruits, vegetables, and medicines that we enjoy from the world of flora. Whether it is planting a medicine plant or cactus, practicing hitbodedut in the forest, or simply appreciating the beauty of nature, Tu B'Shvat is a celebration of life and growth.

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