The fifteenth day of the lunar month of Shvat (in Hebrew, Tu b’Shvat), which falls today, has been reinvented in recent decades as a celebration of nature and even of environmentalism. Arguing that this is a misinterpretation of the day’s meaning, Meir Soloveichik explains its original significance for the tithing of fruit and how 16th- and 17th-century rabbis transformed it into a celebration of the fruit of the land of Israel. (Interview by Eric Cohen. Video, 8 minutes.)
Tu b’Shvat: Tax Deadline, Holiday of the Trees, or an Expression of Longing for the Land of Israel?
The Attack on the Colleyville Synagogue and the Battle of Narratives
In the aftermath of high-profile, violent incidents in the U.S., there is virtually always a national attempt to blame one or the other major political party. Dominic Green, considering the recent hostage-taking at a Colleyville, Texas synagogue, notes that while political discussions of this type may not matter much to the victims of any given attack, they have an invidious effect on our politics. For Jewish parents worried about whether to send their kids to school, he suggests,