Friday, January 29, 2010

Tefillin Bombs, Tu BiShevat, and Scraping By

Yom shishi, 14 Shevat 5770.

This "ad" was shamelessly stolen directly from The Muqata.  It may have been conceived in the mind of Joe Settler, who stole it from the El Al version.  This is how genius works.
(Hat tips to Jameel and Israel National News)

As Shabbat is also Tu BiShevat this year, here are some pictures of what's available in Jerusalem malls just before the chag.




I can't give it over well yet, as I have some more research to do for sources.  But I heard a beautiful dvar Torah this week (at Hadassah's "Amen Party."  Thanks, Hadassah, for a wonderful time with very special ladies).  Devorah asked us why the seven species were those chosen to elevate above all others, when we have evidence in the Torah that special gifts given to monarchs were often completely different (and perhaps more elegant) choices.  What makes these seven -- wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates, or date honey -- special enough to be given unique attention in blessings, and in the festival of Tu BiShevat, as well as at other times throughout the Jewish year?

Devorah taught us that there is a detailed explanation in the Gemara that gives us an answer that is at once surprising, and also typically Jewish.

It seems that these seven species require very special attention, at very specific times in their growth, to develop at all.

What better reminder is there for a Jew to look to Shemayim at all times, to avoid taking for granted our day-to-day gift of survival?

Recently, I wrote about weighing out agarot to buy provisions at the end of the month.


Nu, so we're at the end of the month again; and I am extremely happy.  There is a simple sweetness to scraping together those coins, to having a family that accepts compromising to get by at the end of the pay period.  I suppose I wouldn't be thrilled if this were my life every day.  Nor would I be thrilled if every day were imbued with the exhilarating high of pay day.  In fact, each of these days is precious purely because of the existence of its opposite.

Being "in the money" once a month makes me grateful.  Being at the more "sporty" end of the month also makes me grateful.

This is perhaps the secret of Tu BiShevat's seven species, and of being a Jew.

I wish you a wonderful, sweet Tu BiShevat, filled with a cornucopia of blessings!

Glossary:
Tu BiShevat: The Jewish "New Year for Trees"
Chag: Holiday
Dvar Torah: literally "a word of Torah" -- refers generally to any sermon or talk on the weekly Bible reading 
Amen Party: a recent (or recently-revived) custom of saying blessings followed by heartfelt "amens" on behalf of those in need of special heavenly assistance
Gemara: Jewish oral tradition
Shemayim: Heaven
Agarot: The 10-agarot coin is the lowest-value coin in Israeli currency in circulation -- 1/10th of a shekel, each 10-agarot coin currently is worth less than two cents.
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