The Gantseh Megillah

Tu B'Shevat
February 1, 2002

Tu B’Shevat, which was just celebrated on January 28th is considered to be a minor holiday. I often wonder about the term “minor holiday” since once you set aside a specific day to celebrate an event, it can hardly be considered minor.

Tu B’Shevat celebrates renewal. It was originally the day that marked the beginning of a new cycle for the tithe on fruit trees. This tithing system was put in place in order to guarantee the poor and the priestly class a share in the abundance of the produce. Since the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE, Tu B’Shevat signifies our recognition of the importance of preserving the planet for generations to come. To my way of thinking, this is no minor act.

The entire concept comes down to ensuring all people have a share in the bounty the earth has to offer. Be it of produce, livable land or financial security, it is understood that we have a responsibility to make certain that the land remains hospitable and bountiful.

The world is a far more complex place than it was in 70 CE. Much needs to be done in order to guarantee we have sufficient access to what the earth has to offer. No longer will setting aside 10% of the fruit from our fruit trees be enough to ward off hardship. Our fellow human beings require all kinds of assistance. We have to wonder how we, as ordinary, hard working people who are not blessed with great wealth can make a meaningful difference to the lives of those who are struggling to get by.

The fact is, we can make a tremendous difference using the 10% guideline creatively. We could donate 10% of our time to teaching children or adults to read, working in a soup kitchen, volunteering at a hospital or nursing home, working as a teaching assistant or doing any number of vitally needed jobs. Certainly, those of us who are in the position of helping financially as well should decide on how best to distribute the funds we have available. A small monthly donation could be made to a favorite charity perhaps. Many little contributions add up to a great deal of aid.

As in ancient times, it is up to all of us to make certain the earth’s bounty is enjoyed and shared by all. This is a timeless concept and one that must be taken seriously. Be it sharing the fruit of trees, money or our time, there is something each one of us can do to ensure the continued hospitality of our planet for countless generations into the future. This is certainly relevant to the celebration of Tu B’shevat and hardly a minor matter at all.

Arnold and I are moving forward diligently on the redesign of the Glossary of Yiddish Words and Expressions. This is a very time consuming and labour intensive process, and as you know, we are doing all of this work I in what might laughingly be referred to as our spare time. J It is our hope that the new glossary will be complete within the next couple of months. Of course, I will keep you posted on all developments. One thing I can tell you now without any hesitation whatsoever: the result is going to be well worth waiting for. Thank you for your continued patience and support.

My monthly message would not be complete without my usual reminder that donations are needed and very much appreciated. Please click on the donation information links located on this page so you can get the skinny on how you might assist us with our ongoing Yiddishkeit projects on the World Wide Web.

My love to all of you. Enjoy the Megillah!

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