Here we sit in our homes in Zichron Yaakov, at what appears the home stretch of our third lockdown. With the skies officially closed above Israel our eyes remain focused to the heavens as well as the earth. How fitting it is that Tu B'Shvat begins at sundown this Wednesday eve. I admit that when we lived in the US that while we did conduct a few Tu B'Shvat Seders we didn’t feel particularly connected to the earth and trees of New Jersey. Here in Zichron Yaakov I can't help but realize how connected to nature we actually are. I look out the window (from certain angles) to see the deep blue Mediterranean in all its glory, where many Zichronites surf, Sup or swim there daily. To the Northeast I see the beginnings of the foothills of the Carmel Mountains. On any given day you can see mountain bike riders of all ages ascending and descending the windy trails. In fact, as I am writing this, I am sitting outside in the sun, sipping a fresh squeezed glass of pink grapefruit juice from the fruit I just picked in my garden. To put it mildly we are living the Tu B'shvat dream every day.
Just yesterday while out for a walk with my Dog Blue (yes, a reference to the sea, but she actually has the most beautiful light blue eyes), I met a family that was out for a nature walk of their own in the Langa forest. This family of Olim, who recently made Aliya and bought a home of their own in Zichron, were fascinated by the small pink and white blossoms that filled the trees. I was proud to be able to share my limited botanical knowledge when I informed them that these were indeed almond tree blossoms. To drive the point home, I even belted out my rendition of "Tu B'shvat Higea". For me it symbolizes many themes such as renewal, beauty, perseverance as well as simplicity. It is a time for us to get back to nature and in fact, give back to nature. It is our very own original Arbor Day with a cosmic Kabbalistic twist. Let us celebrate it by showing that we too can grow and flourish like the Shkedia (Almond Tree) in this challenging environment.