Tuesday, February 07, 2012

(re-post) The Un-Greening of Tu B'shvat

Tu B'shvat is Tomorrow

The Un-Greening of Tu B'Shvat

Almost everything that most people "know" about Tu B'Shvat is totally
wrong and completely false. Tu B'Shvat, the 15th day of the month of
Shvat in the Jewish calendar, has been deconstructed in recent years
and converted into a holiday of ecology and environmentalist political

It is waved about by the Tikkun Olam Pagans as a political banner to
demand that all Jews support the Green political agenda. The wacko
pagan "Eco-Judaism" movement, including its Tikkun dervishes, has made
it their holiest of all holidays, a day to hug bushes and worship tree
spirits and nature. And Jewish assimilationist liberals in the United
States use it as theological ammunition to disarm anyone criticizing
environmentalist fanatics.

Tu B'Shvat is not a holiday of ecology, and has nothing to do with
environmentalism. It also is not a day on which Jews celebrate
pristine forests, national parks and wilderness areas. It is, if
anything, the very opposite. It is the celebration of agri-business
and the exploitation of nature for human consumption.

Tu B'Shvat is nominally the "New Year of the Trees" (called this in
the Talmud), but I doubt if one in 100 liberal, politically active
Jews can correctly explain in what sense it is, or what this means;
and I doubt that any follower of Arthur "Reb Woodstock" Waskow or
reader of Tikkun magazine on the planet could explain these things

Tu B'Shvat is decidedly not the time when Jews celebrate the
blossoming of trees. It is the middle of winter, when, even in Israel,
almost no trees are blossoming. (The almond tree is an exception.) The
custom of going out and planting trees on Tu B'shvat is a modern
deconstruction of the meaning of the day and is, in fact, rather
silly. Tu B'Shvat is the worst part of the year in which to try to
plant trees and get them to grow. I have no doubt that 80% of the
famous saplings planted on Tu B'Shvat by Israeli school children never
really take root and grow.

If anything, Tu B'Shvat is the "New Year of Trees" precisely because
it is when trees are not blossoming and when it is the very worst time
to be planting saplings. Tu B'Shvat is the time when the agricultural
year for produce begins, for religious counting purposes.

For example, religious laws having to do with farm produce, such as
the sabbatical of the land every seventh year, or the tithes on annual
produce donated to the Levites or the Temple, or the counting of
growth years to determine when fruit becomes edible, all require a
chronological basis for counting. The logical time to start counting
is exactly when nothing in nature is happening or growing, in exactly
the same way that the time to start counting a New Moon (for the New
Month) is when it is not there at all. It makes the division into
annual cycles easier and more logical for counting and taxation

Tu B'Shvat is a happy time simply because farmers are about to begin a
new agri-cycle. This is so in exactly the same sense as the "New Year
for Farm Animals", also discussed in the Talmud although completely
forgotten by almost all Jews, which starts on the first day of Elul in
late summer.

Tu B'Shvat is a fiscal-tax New Year, more like April 15 in the US (the
day you pay your taxes) than a Save the Earth and the Whales Day. Not
only is it not a harvest day, it is a day when most trees are bare,
and where dry fruits are eaten because there are so few fresh fruits
in season, even in Israel. (Never mind that in Israel these days,
almost all the dry Tu B'Shvat fruits come from Turkey.)

Because it is a day in which the annual business cycle in
agri-business begins, there is not the slightest smidgen of an
environmentalist political agenda in the real meaning of the day.
Because it is a celebration of farming, it certainly cannot be used as
religious artillery ammunition by those who demand that pristine rain
forests and wilderness areas be preserved and their conversion into
farms be prevented. In fact, Tu B'Shvat is really no holiday at all in
any sense, and does not have any liturgy or prayers of its own, other
than the routine blessings over foods one says every day. People who
want to preserve national parks and natural areas are free to lobby
for these, but they will find no theological support for their
position in the real Tu B'Shvat.

So why do so many people think Tu B'Shvat has something to do with
preventing greenhouse gasses or promoting animal rights or preserving
rain forests? Because the Tikkun Olam Pagans, the assimilationist
Leftism-as-Judaism proponents of pseudo-Judaism in the Diaspora and in
Israel, have intentionally hijacked and distorted its meaning

Want to celebrate Tu B'Shvat in the real manner it was intended? Chop
down a tree for lumber, slaughter some farm animals for dinner, build
a farm in the forest, and fish to your heart's content.

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