Reading Deep for Tu B'Shvat

With Tu B'Shvat still high in our consciousness, I want to remind you that – looking forward to next year -- there is a 500-page comprehensive anthology on Tu B'Shvat and trees in Jewish lore and learning that was published in 1999 by the Jewish Publication Society. It is called Trees, Earth, and Torah.

It was edited by Ari Elon, an adventurous Israeli Talmud scholar who also wrote an extraordinary essay for the volume on the spiritual meanings of Tu B'Shvat/ Y'H B'Shvat; by Rabbi Naomi Mara Hyman, who also wrote a profound midrash on the magnificent redwood trees as the "eytzim" of Earth's Sefer Torah; ; and me. (I wrote an essay on the changes in the spiritual meaning and practice of Tu B'Shvat over the millennia.)

It is organized in eight sections called "Roots: Biblical Judaism in the Land of Israel"; "The Trunk: Rabbinic Judaism"; "Branches: Kabbalah and Hasidism"; "Branches: Zionism and the Land of Israel"; "Branches: Eco-Judaism"; "Fruit of the Lovely Tree: Tu B'Shvat Itself"; and "Seeds: Sources for Learning and Doing."

Among the 60-plus entries are the first English translation (done by Miles Krassen) of Pri Eytz Hadar, the classic source of the original Tu B'Shvat Seder from Tsfat; a medieval Amidah that focuses on blessings for trees; Norman Lamm on Bal Tashchit; A.D. Gordon on the earthy land of Israel; poems by Zelda, Marcia Falk, and Marge Piercy; several versions of the Seder, for children and adults; Gershom Scholem on the Trees of Eden in Kabbalah; essays by Eilon Schwartz, Martin Buber, Ismar Schorsch, Rami Shapiro, David Wolfe-Blank, AND Ellen Bernstein; papercuts by Judith Hankin; and many songs and recipes.

You can purchase the volume from JPS at 20% discount by clicking here
and entering the code word "shalom" (without quote marks) at check-out.

I'm suggesting that you get the anthology now and dip into it again and again over the next year, both for your own pleasure and as a treasury of preparation for next Tu B'Shvat (which will fall on February 7-8, 2012).

Blessings for new growth in a wintry time, and for a fruitful year.

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