The Kabbalists defined the world of Yetzirah as a world of inwardness, emotion, and a sense of feeling. The need for protection and reinforcement is an inner matter of the core, of the heart. It is represented by fruits with edible outer flesh and pithy, inedible cores: apricots, avocados, cherries, dates, mangos, olives, peaches, and plums.

While we endured so much communal fragmentation and hatred this past year, we also experienced new moments of profound connection and solidarity, from spontaneous rooftop celebrations of first responders to the multi-racial peaceful demonstrations across the country in the summer of 2020.

May we be blessed this Tu B’Shvat, and throughout the coming year, with the opportunity and the courage to expand our capacity for openness and empathy and thereby rebuild the communities we need.

We each find a fruit from the second category, remove the pit or core, say the blessing together, and then eat.

Baruch ata Adonai, eloheinu melech ha olam, borei p’ri haetz. 

Blessed are you Adonai, our God, ruler of the universe,  creator of fruit of the tree.

On this next stop in our journey, we expand our focus from our own individual communities to the natural world as a whole. Our physical planet is made up of finite resources, and it is our responsibility to ensure that we don’t destroy it. Interestingly, there was not always a word for this concept of sustainability in Hebrew.

Recently, the term kayamut was adopted, which literally means “foreverness” or “in perpetuity.” The human-caused climate crisis, however, shows that we have forsaken our duty to act as stewards of the environment. Scientific consensus has made clear that fires, floods, droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes, heat waves, and food shortages will ravage our lands, our seas, and our lives if we don’t take urgent action to stop our wanton destruction of our environment. Ecosystems, species, habitats, and natural resources will wither away, never to be restored.

In this section we will think about our relationship with the natural world.  We are guided by the questions:

What more can I do, as an individual, to ensure that our planet remains a healthy place for generations and generations to come?

What sacrifices am I willing to make to my individual consumption of resources, and what sacrifices should we as a society make, to stop the climate crisis and restore the natural world?

Service Section: Readings & Activities
Source: Hazon 2021 Tu B'Shvat Haggadah