Inside Israel – today is tu b’ shvat

Hello and welcome to our Sunday look at what is happening inside Israel.  Our sis J of Jerusalem shares about trees today. You just have to read and find out what she has to say!  🙂

God bless you as you pray for Israel and J!  Now here she is . . .

It is tu’b’shvat, the birthday of the trees…and this year, for some reason, people are very involved in it.  That’s great…I’m just never sure WHY some years it’s ‘Eh…Tu’b’shvat…who cares.’ and other years are ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE TREES!  LET’S GO AND PLANT A TREE!’  Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that this is a ‘LET’S GO AND PLANT A TREE!’ year…just wonder ‘Why the change?‘  So I think about what is filling the news these days, and about the wonderful way I have learned here that people ‘Look in a different direction’ when the direction that they are looking at looks black.  It is really not dissimilar to the way we are exhorted over and over to “Look unto Him and be lightened”…”Looking unto Yeshua, The Author and Finisher of our faith” to mention two off the top of my head.  After all…we don’t have one holiday here that is not initiated or rooted in Him.
Most of you likely know that Israel is the ONLY country on earth that is getting greener rather then browner.  We have only one ‘tree planting’ organization which is in charge of all forests. The Keren Kameyet  (or JNF) was established in 1901, before Israel was raised up as a modern state, for the sole purpose of reforesting the land that had been raped of trees over the 2,000 years of our exile.  Jews all over the world sent (and still send) money to plant a tree in Israel in memory (or honor) of a loved one, in return receiving a ‘tree certificate’.  On my wall hangs a beautifully engraved certificate from 1946 in memory of my Grandmother. 
A number of years ago I heard a touching story from an older friend who made aliyah at the same time that we did.  The husband is a concentration camp survivor and shared this story with me, to the best of my memory:  His father was an oriental rug dealer in Germany and was off in Egypt buying carpets when the war broke out.  Our friend, Benyamin, and his mother were taken to the concentration camp and his father was persuaded by his very close Egyptian friend to weather the war with him in Egypt rather then return to Germany to be killed.  Ben’s father and his Egyptian friend, with whom he stayed, were as brothers.  But the DAY that Israel was declared a state, the Egyptian man came in with a gun and told Ben’s father coldly ‘Now you must leave!’ Ben’s father was shocked, ‘Why?’ he asked.  The answer was revealing:  ‘Your God blesses you.  He makes everything grow.  Now you have a state and the desert will turn green.  Our god does not bless us.  He gives us desert.  Nothing grows.  Go and grow your trees.  Our gods are now at war… and so are we.  If you stay I must kill you.’  Ofcourse I do not remember word for word as Ben told us, but I believe that this was the gist of the story, and it shocked me.  Until that moment I had never understood that alla is a god of deserts…such a harsh god who parched his servants.  Our Lord is The Living Water. The ancient jealousy between Isaac and Esau was so evident in this to me. 
When we first made aliyah, we were given (as all new immigrants are) the right to 5 months of ‘ulpan’, intensive language classes (5 hours per day, 5 days a week, for 5 months…full immersion, meaning, ONLY Hebrew was spoken from the first moment we entered the room).  During these amazing classes, we also learned the history, geography and culture of our new land.  All of the holidays were celebrated and explained, and that included tu b’shvat.  The whole class (there were about 40 in my class from 16 countries, if I remember correctly) boarded a tour bus on tu b’shvat which took us to one of our national forests.  We stood before a representative of the Jewish Agency (yes, the same Jewish Agency that was so active in bringing Jews home since WW2) who patiently held a tree planting ceremony for us, and gave us each our first tree to plant in our new homeland.  As we took each other’s pictures planting trees, I was overwhelmed with emotion to see that even I was here…the wonder of it all!…sinking new roots into ancient soil…and GOD HAS DONE THIS! 
This day is also celebrated by the eating of fruits (particularly dried) and nuts that are indigenous to the land.  Most popular are the almond, date, fig, olive (considered a fruit of the land) but really all dried fruit and nuts are enjoyed and given as gifts.  (and being Israeli, you would be amazed at how many people consider chocolate a ‘fruit of the land J)  There is also much of the popular Israeli (Jewish really) pastime of attending classes, lectures, discussions and rabbinical seminars delving into the full meaning of the holiday, debating scriptures and rabbinical sources as well as customs.  (somehow I can’t imagine such a thing taking place concerning, say, Christmas)  The main scripture that I have seen referred to as the foundation of tu b’shvat  is:
When you shall besiege a city a long time, and wage war to capture it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against fruit trees… Only the trees which you know are not trees for food, you may destroy and cut them down to build siege machinery against the city waging war with you. (Deut 20:19-20)
However I have also seen every other verse concerning trees pointed to as well.
So…back to my original question concerning WHY exactly, is tu b’shvat suddenly so popular, davka, this year?  I decided to ask our younger daughter as she has become a pretty good authority and source for her ‘immigrant’ parents.  Her answer?  ‘Well, look at the situations all around us!  We are THRILLED with a reason to ‘look away’ and to celebrate!  I smiled.  Got that one right!
The lesson I learned from this holiday?  (rather, was reinforced) KEEP my focus fixed on Him.  PARTICULARLY when things around me quake and reel, sink my roots in deep and look away to The Son…absorb His Water and produce fruit for His kingdom…PARTICULARLY as the times are short and darkness increases!  May we all be fruit bearing trees for Him.
I miss you, dear family in Him.  May we all glorify God and finish the work.  Lovingly, your sis
ani b’derek
Published in: on February 12, 2012 at 9:37 am  Comments (17)  
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  1. Beautiful thoughts!!! Wow! In my state in America on April 27th large tornados brought down hundreds of trees and took 250+ lives across the state…and more since then. Trees contribute oxygen, shade, beauty, and so much more. I watch them sway in gentle breezes and fall before God’s mighty winds. Awesome. They remind of ourselves.

    Again, beautiful thoughts. I am ‘reblogging’ this to my site,


  2. Reblogged this on Internet Elias's Blog and commented:
    God’s gift of trees!!!!

  3. After reading the story in local news of a 12 year old boy who was brutally beaten to death by his parents, this was a wonderful read this morning. The insight of the little girl is brilliant! Thanks for sharing.

  4. I’m so glad you are here, AngelaMarie and have sent your comment on to J of Jerusalem! You have encouraged her greatly, to know that this blessed you. God bless you as you bless others today! Thank you!

  5. Thank you so much, Carolyn, for reblogging! J of Jerusalem will be thrilled! I’m going to let her know about it now. God bless you and yours today, as He holds you in His hand.

  6. “…until that moment I had never understood that alla is a god of deserts…such a harsh god who parched his servants. Our Lord is The Living Water…”

    What an insightful statement. God bless J and Israel today.

  7. Thank you so much, Larry. That statement did say quite a bit, didn’t it? God bless you and yours today, with His Living Water!

  8. Thank you, Deb

    I am learning much from you and J today!

    I will never think about trees the same way again!

    What Larry said.


  9. I will never think about trees the same way either Ann! 🙂 God bless you as you travel through blog land, leaving those wonderful Ann grace prints!

  10. What a telling story Sister J shared this week. I am still soaking this thought of God of growing things vs the god of deserts!

  11. Amen sister J,
    It is because we, especially you, are living as an artist on the canvas of God’s prophetic easel. It is truly an amazing time to see prophecy being unveiled on the world stage, especially in Israel, where, as I am sure you of all people know is becoming green once again as those scattered world wide are returning. It is such an exciting time to be alive , to see the things God prophesied coming true… And even the part about the Hebrew Language,..

    Zephaniah 3:9
    For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent.

    You may be familiar with Dr. Hans Jenny, who’s science of Cymatics shows only two languages, through a process of sound waves etc… shape their own geometric symbols; Hebrew and Sanskrit, with Hebrew being more accurate. I wrote a little about it here:
    3:14Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem.

    Other places throughout prophecy God tells us He will cause Israel to become plush, and the deserts will become green again. It’s amazing to see it taking place before our very eyes, and in such little time.There should not be any question in anyone’s mind as to Israel’s right to be a Nation in their own land, as just as you alluded to, the land in the hands of those who have had it predominantly since before the return of the Israelites from Babylon, did nothing productive with the land.
    Israel has risen from the ashes, Hallelujah, just in OUR time…

    Mark Twain, ( Samuel Clemons )in his book: “Innocents Abroad” after a trip to Israel in 1867 said this:
    “….. A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds… a silent mournful expanse…. a desolation…. we never saw a human being on the whole route…. hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.”

    Therefore, it’s easy to see that what is taking place in Israel, once again becoming the land of milk and honey, has taken place since May 15, 1948, When Israel became a nation again… And it’s all because God Said This:

    Ezekiel 36:6-36

    7Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; I have lifted up mine hand, Surely the heathen that are about you, they shall bear their shame.

    8But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel; for they are at hand to come.

    9For, behold, I am for you, and I will turn unto you, and ye shall be tilled and sown:

    11And I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit: and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
    24For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.

    25Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.

    26A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 28And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.

    “30And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen”

    “SORRY” for the lengthy comment, Deb, I just get so excited watching God’s Prophecies unfold before our very eyes, as the Artist Paints His Perfect Picture on the canvas of World, and the prophetic clock, that is Israel, begins to toll the time.
    Bless You
    paul .

  12. I know, Pastor J . . .that really got me thinking too! God bless you and forwarding you on to J of Jerusalem! She’s humbled by all the comments this week!

  13. Well, I thought this was wonderful Paul! You just can come here and write as much as you want!! 😀 J is going to be so blessed, just so blessed, to having another brother in prayer and support of Israel.
    God bless you and thank you for being here and being His!

  14. My Deb,
    Loved hearing from J.
    It is just amazing to know my ex was born in Israel, amidst all the spiritual history and culture of God, yet he threw it all away and wasted his life. Unbelievably sad!
    Thanks for bringing news from Israel…I will keep J in my prayers.
    love, your bee

  15. It’s hard to understand sometimes, how one can be so touched by the things of God and another not want anything to do with Him. So sorry for the sadness of that. God bless you and your faithfulness to Him and to pray! You are such a blessing! love and prayers!

  16. Does J not read, and, or reply to the comments? It’s fine if she doesn’t, but, then that would be more like a commentary without corresponding possibilities. An information web-site, rather than a blog.
    Bless You

  17. She doesn’t . . .I send them on to her though. But, I can e-mail you her e-mail address, so you could correspond with her that way, and she would put you on her list . . .of which I’m on . . .and get these letters that I post on Sundays and other prayer notes that she sends out, if you’d like! Let me know! And thanks for the interest and blessings!

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