A More Mindful Tu B'Shevat

Tags: Tu B'Shevat, Tradition, Family, Israel Engagement, Holidays

By Chana Bracha Siegelbaum

This year I look forward leading a Tu b’Shevat Seder for the 34th time.

For as long as I have been Torah observant Tu B'Shevat has been the centerpiece of my observance. My children grew up with the Tu B’Shevat Seder, happily participating on my lap - not realizing that for many Jews the Tu B’Shevat Seder is not yet part of their Jewish experience.

Back in the 80's, hardly anyone had heard about the Tu B’Shevat Seder. Now in the wake of the redemption when we once again will eat fruits in the Garden of Eden, the Tu B’Shevat Seder is continuously becoming a more popular even mainstream way of celebrating Tu B’Shevat.

Each year I anticipate this most mindful, meditative, musical, mystical experience, even just looking at the platters of shining fruits with their complementary colors and textures.

Beholding the fruit without eating yet, is for me an important part of the conscious way of eating that the Tu B’Shevat Seder invites.

I’m embarrassed to say, but during the year, I struggle to remember chewing my food carefully. This is in spite of the fact that I’m well aware of all the health benefits of chewing slowly, besides it being a positive mitzvah mentioned in chapter 32 of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch. Yet, during the Tu B’Shevat Seder, we really appreciate the goodness of the fruits that Hashem bestows upon us.

We discuss both their mystical and medicinal qualities, as we hold them in our hands and feel their energy. We pray, praise and express thanks to our creator for His bestowal of this beautiful abundance, patiently waiting to take that first bite until its proper Torah passage has been read and translated.

Then we eat in silence while hearing each other chew. Slowly, slowly feeling the texture of each fruit disintegrating in our mouth delivering its special nutritious gift to each and every organ.

The best thing about the Tu B’Shevat Seder is that we consume altogether so little but leave the Seder table so full, and fulfilled.

Chana Bracha Siegelbaum is the author of The Seven Fruits of the Land of Israel and founder and director of Midreshet B'erot Bat Ayin: Holistic Torah Study for Women on the Land of Israel.

Here's a Special Preview of some of the Recipes from Chana's Seder:

A Mediterranean variation of the traditional Ashkenazi carrot salad

4 cups grated carrots
¾ cup fresh pomegranate arils
A small bunch of freshly chopped basil leaves 1 handful of nuts or seeds (I use a mixture of almonds and sunflower seeds)
Fresh juice of 1–2 lemons
¼–½ cup of coconut milk (optional)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger (optional)
Coconut flakes to taste

1. Mix everything together.
2. Marinate for one hour before serving.

Happy Tu B'Shevat!

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Tags: Tu B'Shevat, Tradition, Family, Israel Engagement, Holidays