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Jewish Geography

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Jan 31, 2018

Tu Bishvat is often referred to as the 'Jewish arbor day,' but it's a bit more complicated than that. We discuss the history of this day, and how it's meaning has developed through time. Then we discuss looking at the world through a positive lens and the Jewish imperative to give others the benefit of the doubt.


  1. Read more about Tu Bishvat here:
  2. The Mishna I read in the first part of today's podcast is here and quoted below: "MISHNA: They are four days in the year that serve as the New Year, each for a different purpose: On the first of Nisan is the New Year for kings; it is from this date that the years of a king’s rule are counted. And the first of Nisan is also the New Year for the order of the Festivals, as it determines which is considered the first Festival of the year and which the last. On the first of Elul is the New Year for animal tithes; all the animals born prior to that date belong to the previous tithe year and are tithed as a single unit, whereas those born after that date belong to the next tithe year. Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Shimon say: The New Year for animal tithes is on the first of Tishrei. On the first of Tishrei is the New Year for counting years, as will be explained in the Gemara; for calculating Sabbatical Years and Jubilee Years, i.e., from the first of Tishrei there is a biblical prohibition to work the land during these years; for planting, for determining the years of orla, the three-year period from when a tree has been planted during which time its fruit is forbidden; and for tithing vegetables, as vegetables picked prior to that date cannot be tithed together with vegetables picked after that date. On the first of Shevat is the New Year for the tree; the fruit of a tree that was formed prior to that date belong to the previous tithe year and cannot be tithed together with fruit that was formed after that date; this ruling is in accordance with the statement of Beit Shammai. But Beit Hillel say: The New Year for trees is on the fifteenth of Shevat.
  3. Here is the song about Tu BiShvat:
  4. Translation (without repetitions): "The almond tree is blooming, blazing sun is shining, birds on all roofs singing, welcoming the coming holiday. Tu BiShvat has arrived, a holiday for the trees!"
  5. Finding the good in people. My quotation from a facebook post: "Today I witnessed a secular (looking?) soldier carry a haredi bag lady's cart up a massive flight of stairs for her without a word of request or thanks exchanged, an Arab driver in Silwan stopped patiently and let me cross the street NOT at the crosswalk with a group of 30 tourists in tow without showing any impatience as the cars behind him honked, and a haredi Yemenite 'beggar' gave me an extended Torah lesson and many blessings in return for a few shekels. The young 'dati' guy with a kipa and a pony tail at the coffee shop gave me a free pastry with my free (for the tour guide) coffee just cuz, and wished me a 'yom nifla' (amazing day). Rebbe Nachman's teachings train his followers to search for the good point in themselves no matter how far they've fallen, and to see the good in every person. May we all be blessed with eyes to see the good in ourselves, in every individual, and in every group of people with which we merit to come in contact."
  6. My loose translation of Rav A.Y. Kook's response to Brenner's public critique: "The man who said of me that my soul is torn spoke well. It's impossible picture a man without a torn soul. Only the inanimate is complete. But man has opposing aspirations, and an an internal battle is always raging within him. And the entire purpose of man is to unify what is torn in his soul by an all encompassing idea, that through it's soaring greatness everything is included in a universal harmony."
  7. This is the full song performed by Yonatan Razel based on the words of Rav Kook quoted above.

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The rendition of Israel’s national anthem, Hatikvah, which serves as the shows theme music was created by Andrés Rodríguez (“androz” on This episode also includes a snippet of 'Harmonia' by Yonatan Razel HERE, and one of "Hashkedia Porachat" by Dafna Armoni HERE.
Most importantly, many thanks to the Creator of the Universe, for bringing about all these wonders, without which, I would have nothing to talk about.