Leah’s Blog – Tu B’Shvat January 23 2016
Our earliest neighbors here on Itamar were (and are) organic farmers. Back in those days, for all of us though, regardless of what you did, it was a life removed from amenities, supermarkets, malls and even pavement. So bare, the remoteness of it in its new beginnings enabled you with getting deeply attuned to nature. Walking in the wild woods into the remnant of ancient brambles, over mossy stones, old trunks and branches of wood from who knows when and thorny bushes that scratched, you could hear the mountain silence and even the faintest of sounds far away. As we were striking roots, organic gardens were shooting up in the wind washed hills all around us. Forests were being planted as hundreds and thousands of trees made a home right here on Itamar. The climate even changed.
I recall observing this neighbor of mine’s blackened hands, earth embedded under her fingernails as she seemed to display them proudly like they were exquisite. I pondered this as I too loved the earth but wasn’t a hardwood like her and enjoyed a nice manicure- even if I had to give myself one! There was also the sheep herder who was always covered in mud ….and he smelled! I remembered then the first Aliyah pioneers that left Europe wearing tailored suits and later wore white scarves and thin cotton work clothes wet with sweat as they dried out the swamps. We had it easier. Now tractors replaced hand tools and drip systems took over the worry of the blistering hot sun of July and August. Technology blossomed along with the crops and Israel was pushing its head out of the sand reaching out to countries like Haiti and Darfour, being a light unto the nations, healing and nurturing.
Fast forward ahead and this barren forgotten shire is vibrant with life, the earth here raising a wealth of delicious things like strawberries, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, kale and dill. The grapevines cascade over rocks in Summer in a niagra of luscious clusters of green gems. The gold medal wine is stored in cellars built from the time of Joshua! We have streets now, public parks running with children being raised to value the ideals of ecological and environmental awareness. They are guided by the loving spirit for this earth and specific Torah ethics that apply to this one place in the world- indigenous to the Jewish people.
As much as we have done, Hashem has done it for us.
“But you, oh you mountains of Israel shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit for My people. They will soon be coming!” Ezekiel 34.
This is our answer to all of the subjects of today’s current events. THESE are the current events!
As part of the Itamar family tree, I know you would love to get your hands into the earth and some of you have! We have planted trees together and we have planted trees for you. Maybe right now you are on the 17th floor of an office building. Maybe you just had a baby. Maybe you are swamped with clients. Maybe you have to cook for Shabbat! Maybe you are having a manicure. You can be and are part of it. Friends of Itamar has been supporting our farmers and continues to rely on your loving kindness in all Land reclamation projects. Let’s remember our farmers who are holding down the Land for all of us now, especially on Tu B’Shvat this year.
Tu B’Shvat Sameyach!
Shabbat Shalom and Besorot Tovot, Leah