Home Synagogues Keneseth Beth Israel Rabbi Reflections: Rabbi Asher of KBI

Rabbi Reflections: Rabbi Asher of KBI

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Rabbi Dovid Asher, Keneseth Beth Israel

Mother Earth and the Holiday of Shevat

The phrase Mother Earth conceptually originates from the second chapter of the Torah, where we read that just like a mother forms a child so too the Almighty formed mankind from the “dust of the Earth.”

The next holiday on the Jewish calendar is Tu B’Shevat where we celebrate the New Year of the Trees as recorded by the Oral Law in the first Mishna of Tractate Rosh Hashanah.

When considering that trees are one of the greatest contributors to global oxygen intake, the Jewish community ought to take a unique pride in the opportunity to annually reflect on this important holiday.  While the Sages might have been referencing fruit bearing trees, all trees are represented here as is also our own role in maintaining the physical universe.

This holiday of the eleventh biblical month allows us to exhibit our unique relationship to the land and to agriculture in general.  Some Jewish communities have an ancient custom to make a blessing on every type of food vegetation and some specify the species that originate from the land of Israel.  For instance, they’ll arrange a meal where they would recite a blessings of “borei pri ha’etz (Creator of tree produce)” on fruit and of “borei pri adomah” (Creater of land produce) on vegetables.  However we decide to observe this day, we should take time out of the 15th of this upcoming month to appreciate all the planet has to offer us as the ultimate gift of the Almighty.

Adam comes from the Hebrew word “adamah,” which refers to the ground, and this underscores the huge moral responsibility that is incumbent upon the human race to take care of our environment.

Humanity came into existence on the sixth day of the world, and being the final addition to the physical universe allowed us to experience the mindful holiness of the reflective Shabbat.

Moreover, being the final piece of G-d’s universe makes it incumbent upon the human race to be the keepers of this indispensable divine bestowal as explicitly directed by G-d (1:29).

Considering our humbling origins, let us pray to the Almighty on this Tu B’Shevat to grant us the wisdom and the strength to ensure the wellbeing of this precious world that nourishes and gives forth life itself!

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