Tu B'Shvat, traditionally known as the birthday of the trees, is a time to think about relating to the natural world. This holiday can be celebrated by planting trees, eating fruits, and having a Tu B'Shvat Seder, a ritual that began with the kabbalistic masters of the 15th century.
While I don't have kabbalistic leanings, I have always loved this minor feast. Our halachah (tradition) has always been to remember our beloved and abundant Land of Israel and our LORD who brought us to it so long ago.
This year, I changed it up a bit and went for a more traditional presentation of all the elements of the seder. What an impressive spread! As we made our way through the Tu B'Shvat hagadah, similar to Pesach (Passover), we said blessings, tasted what the Land has to offer and enjoyed four cups of wine.
Here's some of the lessons I have learned about hosting the festival seder...
1. Keep it intimate.
Different from previous years, this year was more intimate - which was wonderful. It afforded us much time to share our experiences of the Land, our hopes and dreams of someday going (or going back), and laughing together. Instead of a formal table setting, I opted for the more casual atmosphere of the homeshul, a crackling fire, inviting music and chairs 'scooched' up around the coffee table.
2. Keep it focused.
In such a casual atmosphere, things can get off-track quickly. We kept focused on the Land and the task at hand, always bringing the conversation back to the purpose of our celebration. We are blessed to have our own unique hagadah, (order of service), put together by our dear friend Barb, incorporating traditional blessings, sayings of the sages and focused Scripture passages. At present we have only one copy, so we passed it around and took turns 'leading'. This gave several the honor of reciting Scripture and leading the blessings.
3. Keep it simple.
This is always a good rule for any hosting or entertaining. This year, in addition to simplifying the platter of elements, I kept the festival meal simple, as well. Trying to keep an Israeli feel to the menu, it consisted of four items; entree, side, salad and dessert. Since we nibble on yummies while enjoying our four cups of wine, the festival meal doesn't need to be complicated.
Last year's celebration of Tu B'Shvat was a wonderful success and this year was only better. I am truly blessed with good friends, the abundance of provision and the comforting traditions that bind us together as we walk in faith and love for each other...all to glorify our G-d.
Blessed are You, Lord our G-d,
King of the Universe,
Who has kept us alive,
sustained us, and brought us to this season.
|Blessed are You, Lord our G-d...|