I practiced mindfulness once before. In a group of five, we raised individual wrinkled raisins from table to tongues. Rotating the tiny mass about my mouth, my mind wandered between the dehydrated folds. A seeming heedless mess of raised twists and turns covered the raisin’s rough exterior. Biting down, the small yet complex raisin caught between my molars, a sweet juice poured out and over my waiting taste buds.
Months later, surrounded by the carefully crafted hills of Tzfat, I am brought back to that moment. This time, it is a dried date that I flip over in my hand mindfully exploring its ridges. Similar to the raisin, the date is encased in a plastic-like mess of raised curves. This time, holding the caramel-colored date up at eye level, I am partaking in a Tu Bi’Shevat Lit. Order. The festive meal conducted on Passover night, in a specific order with specific rituals to symbolize aspects of the Exodus from Egypt. It is conducted following the haggadah, a book for this purpose. The mystics of Sefat also created a seder for Tu B'shvat, the new year of the trees. and seated, not on the plush couches of an air conditioned Upper East Side living room, but the cool, tiled floor of a Tzfat Lit. hut or booth A temporary hut constructed outdoors for use during Sukkot, the autumn harvest festival. Many Jews observe the mitzvah of living in the Sukkah for the week of Sukkot, including taking their meals and sleeping in the Sukkah.. Someone to my right volunteers to read aloud from the Tu Bi’Shevat Companions that have been passed around to the thirty of us gathered closely around heaping plates of Israel’s Seven Species: “Palm trees attracted the curiosity and praises of our Sages for having a variety of utilities. This inspired them to claim the palm as a symbol of sustainability and a waste-free life. Every part of the tree is useful and has a purpose.”
Tu Bi’Shevat is a celebration of nature. It is a day dedicated to mindful appreciation of G-d’s awe-inspiring artistry in the crafting of the trees in the garden below the balcony where I sit, the hills surrounding me on all sides, and the fruits whose textures and tastes I carefully inspect. I recognize G-d’s masterful intention in every bump He raised in the surface of the fig; each pomegranate seed has a role that no other pomegranate seed can serve. “Every part of the tree . . . has a purpose,” I am reminded.
Mindfulness of G-d’s attention to the fine details of His every creation, then, becomes My Tu Bi’Shevat. Like the palm tree that “has nothing wasted from it: the dates are for eating, the young unopened branches are for the On Sukkot, three of the four species (the palm, the myrtle, and the willow) are bound and waved together with the etrog. The lulav is said to symbolize the spine, while the myrtle's leaves symbolize eyes, the willow's leaves are lips, and the etrog is the heart. . . . the fibers around the trunk are used to make rope . . .,” I recognize that every olive pit discarded into the piling mound before me has its own unique purpose. I recognize that each of the singing and swaying men and women who have selected to spend Shabbat is the Sabbath day, the Day of Rest, and is observed from Friday night through Saturday night. Is set aside from the rest of the week both in honor of the fact that God rested on the seventh day after creating the world. On Shabbat, many Jews observe prohibitions from various activities designated as work. Shabbat is traditionally observed with festive meals, wine, challah, prayers, the reading and studying of Torah, conjugal relations, family time, and time with friends. at Livnot U’Lehibanot share an individual role in my deep appreciation of this moment. I recognize that this is a meaningful moment because I am mindful of G-d’s ingenuity in the creation of fruits and friends alike. And, for this, I am grateful.
Tu Bi’Shevat at Livnot enabled me an awareness of G-d’s purposeful creativity. Livnot is a soulful, wholesome home that G-d, surely, took good care in crafting. The plump date is a symbol of sustainability and purposefulness, and Tu Bi’Shevat at Livnot has helped me to sustain an appreciation of this and all creation. My Livnot Tu Bi’Shevat makes every day a holiday.
Read an excerpt from Livnot U’Lehibanot’s Tu Bi’Shevat companion here!
Explore and download Livnot U’Lehibanot’s complete Tu Bi’Shevat companion here!
Henna Warman is a nurse from Brooklyn, New York. She hopes to incorporate writing and creative expression into her nursing care, as well as recognition of and appreciation for our naturally healing surroundings.
Livnot U’Lehibanot (Hebrew for “To Build and Be Built”) is an integrated Lit. ''the one who struggles with God.'' Israel means many things. It is first used with reference to Jacob, whose name is changed to Israel (Genesis 32:29), the one who struggles with God. Jacob's children, the Jewish people, become B'nai Israel, the children of Israel. The name also refers to the land of Israel and the State of Israel. experience of volunteering, hiking, and community building that allows participants to explore themselves and connections to their Jewish roots and heritage. Livnot U’Lehibanot has been providing short-term Israel programs for young Jewish adults and enhancing Israel and Diaspora communities for 35 years with over 7,000 alumni and 25,000 volunteers.