Tu Bishvat
  • Part Four: Festival Symbols
  • Part Five: Lesson and Activity Ideas


  • Festival Symbols

    Sources:

    Sources in the Written Law:

    "For the Lord G-d shall lead you into the good land, a land of flowing water... The land of wheat and barley, the vine and fig and pomegranate, a land of the olive tree and honey"
    Dvarim 8, 7-8

    These plants have a special status since they have come to symbolize Eretz Yisrael and the Jewish people. Our sages told many parables about the fruits of these trees. Any one of these particular fruits, in the eyes of the sages, was a symbol of various human characteristics and cause for the glorification of the Jewish people, the land of Israel or the Torah.



    Let us review some of the parables about the seven species.

    Sources in the Oral Law:




    Wheat
    Barley
    Vine

    Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish used to say: a people is like a cluster of grapes. Its shoots are the householders; its clusters - the sages and its leaves - the simple people. Its suckers are the idlers. It therefore follows that the clusters should pray for the welfare of the leaves, because without these, the grapes will not be sweet.

    Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Chulin, 92




    Figs

    "One who takes care of a fig tree will enjoy its fruit." Why is the Torah compared to a fig tree? Every fruit has a part which is inedible: in the date, it is the stone; in grapes, it is the pips; in the pomegranate, it is the seeds -- only the fig is entirely suitable as food."

    Yalkut Shimoni, Yehoshua 1




    Pomegranate

    "As the slice of the pomegranate, so is your forehead". Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish used to say, "Among your people, even the most ordinary people are filled full by the commandments, as a pomegranate. "The pomegranate trees came into blossom", these are the small children who study Torah and sit in rows before their teachers, like the seeds of a pomegranate."
    Shir HaShirim Rabba 6, 17




    The Olive Tree

    "As the oil which acquires its superlative qualities only through being pressed, so is the people of Israel repent only through suffering. As oil brings light to the world, so shall Israel light the world."
    Shir HaShirim Rabba 1




    The Date Palm

    "The just man as the date palm shall flourish, like the cedar of Lebanon shall he grow tall". In the same way as there is nothing wasted from the date palm, whose fronds are used for holy praise, whose dates are eaten as fruit, whose trunk provides support, whose fibres are used for rope, the threads for nets and the branches for roofing -- so the Jewish people comprises only worthy individuals: some know the Tanach, others the Mishnah, still others the Talmud; some know the Aggadah, some the commandments and others - lovingkindness.
    Bereishit Rabba 41




    Lesson and Activity Ideas

    Goal:
    Acquaint the student with his or her own family tree on the basis of family reminiscences.
    Preparation:
    Students supply information researched at home from parents on up to three generations, where possible, in order to provide sufficient material for the activity below.
    1. Names of family members
    2. Anecdotes about each of them
    3. Professions
    4. Place of birth
    5. Place of death
    6. Place of residence in their lifetime




    Introduction:

    Begin with the theme, "Man is as the Tree of the Field", as presented above.

    After the parable, "O, tree, how shall I bless you?", open a discussion with the students on the parallels between trees and people.

    Part One:

    As noted above, the Kabbalah calls man an "inverted tree", as he has roots and branches, but the roots are above and the branches below. This is also reflected in the form of a "family tree".

    Each student now designs his or her own "family tree", using the information from their research at home, in the following format:

    Myself
    Father Mother
    Grandfather Grandmother Grandfather Grandmother
    great-
    grand
    father
    great-
    grand
    mother
    great-
    grand
    father
    great-
    grand
    mother
    great-
    grand
    father
    great-
    grand
    mother
    great-
    grand
    father
    great-
    grand
    mother




    Part Two:

    The teacher/moderator hangs all the family trees around the room and asks studnets to provide an interesting anecdote about one of their family members.

    Conclusion:
    Teach the song, "Man is as the Tree of the Field".


     

     

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    27 Jun 2005 / 20 Sivan 5765 0