Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. – Robert Louis Stevenson
Our current circumstances, while unfortunate, just might give us an opportunity to understand Tu B’Shvat a little differently. Tu B’Shvat, the 15th of the month of Shvat which generally corresponds to January, is the dead of winter. It is the time when the farms and orchards seem their most bleak, the marketplaces are their most quiet and the forests are the least colorful. Around the world right now, this natural phenomena is mirrored in so many other ways. Shops are boarded, restaurants closed, cultural and social venues shuttered until further notice. In too many ways, our lives, like the trees, seem dormant.
However, the idea of this festival is that this is the time when somewhere deep and unseen within the tree, the sap begins to rise. Hidden from view, the internal process unfolds and eventually we will see growth and color where we now see only bleakness and decay. The message is this: real change, real growth, happens on the inside long before it can be seen on the outside.
While many are prevented from celebrating this day the way they have done in previous years, the opportunity exists to tap into the essence of the day in a new way.
For example, rather than planting a tree, plant I different kid of seed: make an investment of time and energy into a new project or relationship that will bear fruit in the future.
If you don’t have “new fruits” available to eat, look at one way in which the pandemic has changed your life and strategize how you can use this change to develop a new ability or become more resilient.
If there isn’t an opportunity to make brachot (blessing on various foods), try a gratitude meditation, where you focus on one thing that you are fortunate to have and spend a few quiet minutes deliberately and deeply appreciating it.
Let’s make the most of winter, as spring is just around the corner.
Happy Tu B’Shvat!