Friday, January 29, 2010

Tu Bishbat: ILANOT

Today is the 14th of Shebat 5770

Tomorrow, Shabbat, is the fifteenth day of the month of Shebat, the New Year - Rosh haShana- of the Trees. In our community this festival is mainly known as "Ilanot" (trees).

Tu Bishbat considered the Rosh haShana of the trees in the sense that the trees become one year older, not one year after they were planted, but on the 15th day of Shebat.

Most of the rain of the previous year, in the Land of Israel, have already fallen and a certain percentage of the fruit has reached the stage of "begun to ripen." This is defined as from the time of blossoming until the fruit has reached one third of its full growth. Fruit which have reached this stage, at Tu Bishbat are attributed to the previous year. Any new blossoming of fruit after this day is a result of the blessings of the new year.

Today, outside the realm of agriculture and tithes, the custom on Tu B'Shvat is to eat fruits from the seven species for which the Land of Israel is praised: "...a land of wheat and barley and grape and fig and pomegranate, a land of olives and honey (dates)" (Deut. 8:8). It is a special Zekhut to eat fruits which actually come from the Land of israel and say Berakha for them.

No special prayers are added to the regular prayer services but Tachanun (or Tsidkatekha) is not said.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

When a Parve food remains Parve

Today is the 12th of Shebat, 5770

If you cooked a Parve food together with meat or dairy, that Parve food becomes the same status as the food that was cooked next to.

However, if something Parve (rice, vegetables, fruits, drinks, or egg) was cooked in a meat pot, and that pot was completely clean of any food residues, there is no need to wait between eating that Parve food and eating a dairy product.

Moreover, according to the Sephardic Minhag, a Parve food that was cooked in a completely clean dairy or meat pot is considered Parve and it could be eaten with meat or with diary. (Please, read twice before applying!).


1. If you cook an egg on a completely clean pot that was previously used to cook meat, you could eat this egg with cheese, because the egg is still considered Parve.

2. If the egg was cooked in the same pot together with a piece of meat or with meat residues, that egg is considered “ meat” (BESARI) and to eat that egg, you have to wait 6 hours to eat dairy and obviously, it cannot be eaten with cheese.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The meaning of the word "Barukh"

Last week we discussed the issue of Kavana, consciousness, and a level of a deeper understanding, beyond the words’ translation, which helps the person who prays to meditate on each word of the Amida.

First we “say” the word. We have to actually articulate the word and whisper it to ourselves, not just think about it. Once we say the word we need to "understand" its meaning. Then, we need to "stop on that word and delve into its meaning", letting the word to inspire us back.

Let’s illustrate this idea with the word Barukh: Commonly translated as “Blessed” this word involves some difficulties even in its plain understanding. One can immediately notice that we cannot possibly bless God in the sense we bless another human being, wishing him or her well. Neither are we invocating God’s blessing to someone else, like we do in a Misheberakh or in Bircat Cohanim.

When we say Barukh we are acknowledging that God is the ultimate source of every blessing in our lives. Everything we have, beginning with our life, is a gift/blessing from God. Barukh inspires gratitude. And it invites us to find His presence in things that we take for granted. When taking seriously, thinking about Barukh or any other word in the Amida, could take us more than a few seconds.