In a few more days the People of Israel in the Land of Israel will physically celebrate the Festival that extols Nature, and in particular, the natural bounty of the Land of Israel: Tu Bishvat, the 15 day of the month of Shvat. Thousands of people, especially young people, will fill every possible corner of the State of Israel to continue fulfilling God's command to plant the Land - and, by that act, to make it ours, in a partnership between our Creator, our People and our Land.
This relationship with the Promised Land is a symbol of our People's continuity through the ages. There is a beautiful ecological passage in our sources - MIDRASH TANCHUMA, PARASHAT KEDOSHIM - illustrating this:
"And you will come to the Land
and plant trees bearing fruit:
The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to Israel:
Even if you should find the Land of Israel filled with plenty,
You shall not say: We shall rest and not plant.
But you shall say: Be constant in your planting...
As you found plantings by others when you entered this Land,
so you too shall plant seeds for your children.
That none shall say:
I am old, how many years will I still live?
Why am I standing and becoming tired for others?
Tomorrow, I will die!
Thus, Man shall not cease planting,
but as he will find,
he must plant, and plant more,
even though he be old."
This message is beautifully simple: if our Communities since the Holocaust grew and developed all over the world, if the tiny, fledgling State of Israel became an extraordinary source of creation and strength, it was and is because of all those Jews who had the vision to hope for the development not only of their own generation, but felt responsible for all the generations of our People, Jews who worked hard to plant the trees that still nourish our bodies and fill our souls with their sweet appeal.
On Tu Bishvat we emulate all those who plant permanent roots for the sake of our future, taking that future into our own hands for ourselves, for our families, for our communities and for the people of Israel as a whole.
This Tu Bishvat, let's root our souls in love, generosity and commitment to our loved ones and our people everywhere, for a present filled with a profusion of all manner of fruit and the promise of future growth and development.
Tu Bishvat Sameach!
RABBI CARLOS TAPIERO
Deputy Director-General & Director of Education
Maccabi World Union