Tu B’Shevat

seven species stamps 1958

Master of the Universe, grant me the ability to be alone;
may it be my custom to go outdoors each day
among the trees and grass —among all growing things and there may I be alone, and enter into prayer, to talk with the One to whom I belong.

May I express there everything in my heart,
and may all the foliage of the field —
all grasses, trees, and plants —
awake at my coming,
to send the powers of their life into the words of my prayer
so that my prayer and speech are made whole
through the life and spirit of all growing things,
which are made as one by their transcendent Source.

May I then pour out the words of my heart
before your Presence like water, O Holy One,
and lift up my hands to You in worship,
on my behalf, and that of my children!

Reb Nachman of Bratslav (1772-1810)

Tu B’Shevat, the 15th of the month of Shevat, is designated by the Talmud as the New Year for the Trees. It is the time of tithing: Every year, you shall set aside a tenth part of the yield, so that you may learn to revere your God forever.(Deuteronomy 14.22-23) The Kabbalists of 17th century Safed developed a Tu B’Shevat seder to further their model of tikkun olam, healing the world.

This Tu B’Shevat affords us the opportunity to acknowledge how the stakes of environmental stewardship are intimately connected to our well being. The enormity of destruction and degradation with global warming, massive deforestation, the extinction of species, poisonous deposits of toxic chemicals and nuclear wastes, and exponential population growth must be addressed and remedied. Tu B’Shevat is our opportunity.

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