February 2020 Message
I just became a grandmother for the very first time! The day of my grandson’s birth was reason for grand celebration, joy and much gratitude. The whole world joined the festivities as throngs gathered, sparklers were lit, fireworks illuminated the sky and crowds cheered. It didn’t hurt that our little guy showed up on New Year’s Eve!
Every year from now on, the sky will brighten on Liam’s birthday. From the candles on his cake to the Waterford crystal ball in Times Square, there will be a little more light in the world as we celebrate this little boy’s birth.
Birthdays are such important milestones that Jewish tradition observes 4 New Years, or birthdays, each year. On Rosh Hashanah, we celebrate the Creation, the birthday of the world, and note a new year on the cover of our calendars; Passover celebrates the birth of our people and, during the Hebrew month of Elul, we observe the New Year of Cattle Tithing, the forerunner of our present-day April 15th. This month, we celebrate Tu B’Shevat, the New Year, or birthday, of Trees. It is important to know a tree’s age so that we know when we may begin to harvest the fruits of its branches. All trees, no matter when they were planted, grow one year older on Tu B’Shevat, the 15th of the month of Shevat and, only once a tree turns 4, may fruit be taken from it, all of it then being given to G-d. During the 5th year, we may taste the tree’s produce, but only after offering 10% of it as a tithe.
It has been said that people are very much like trees. Ilan Shamir’s Advice from a Tree, counsels us to: “Stand tall and proud and sink your roots deeply into the earth. Reflect the light of a greater source. Think long term. Go out on a limb. Remember your place among all living beings. Embrace with joy the changing seasons, for each yields its own abundance: The energy and birth of spring; the growth and contentment of summer; the wisdom to let go of leaves in the fall; the rest and quiet renewal of winter.”
May you each be rooted in the most fertile soil and may your branches reach star-studded canopies.