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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

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Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

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Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 13, 2006 / 15 Shevat, 5766

Fruity days in the Holy Land

By Yaffa Ganz


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | As I wend my way through the colorful, well-stocked supermarket aisles, my mind meanders through orchards and fields and trees. It's that time of year again; Tu B'Shvat has arrived.


In the Midwest U.S.A. where I grew up, Tu B'Shvat was an anomaly. It always came in the wrong season, in the midst of winter, often with freezing sleet and icy snow. It was a long-distance holiday whose purpose was to remind us that we were on the wrong continent, in the wrong country; that far away in the Land of Israel, spring was on its way; the sap was rising in the trees; and G-d was blessing the produce of His Land for the next agricultural year. Tu B'Shvat reminded us that our calendar, our laws, our lives were intrinsically bound up with His Land, not with the place where we happened to live.


Perhaps that was the reason I loved Tu B'Shvat, even though there was nothing much to mark the day besides the dry, hard, brown and tasteless bokser — the fruit of the carob tree, they gave us in school.


I never ate that carob fruit, but it left its mark nonetheless. It imprinted Eretz Yisrael, the Holy Land, on my mind and in my soul. Even today, many years later, carob immediately conjures up visions of Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa and Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai who hid from the Romans in a cave in the Galilee for twelve years and survived on carob fruit; and it transports me — in true flying carpet fashion — to the Upper Galilee. I see Tzefas (Safed), ancient burial caves of Talmudic rabbis, mountainous villages and most of all, trees — dainty, silver-coated leaves on gnarled olive trees; dark, hand-shaped leaves on spreading fig trees, and the stately, canopied carob. In my mind, they are all intertwined: Eretz Yisrael, Tu B'Shvat and trees.


A tree is a tree is a tree, but each is a distinct, unique creation, and every one is a wonder to behold, a miraculous piece of engineering, a powerhouse of energy, a balm for the soul. All growing things are miraculous — tiny buds poking through bare, brittle branches; acres of golden wheat and lush grasses; fields of wildflowers or the profusion of red poppies in the spring, or violet bougainvillea draped over a garden wall or fence. But trees reach up to the sky and give wings to my soul.


Plants in general never fail to amaze me. Leaves inhale sunlight from a source millions of lights years away; roots ingest water and inert minerals from the soil; and somehow, somewhere, in intricate connections we can only begin to fathom, energy and matter are transformed into living, mind-boggling works of art which sustain our lives. The Divine Spark which makes inanimate things live and grow and multiply, is a wonder indeed (which makes me wonder how I can mindlessly mumble a blessing on food countless times a day without mustering the proper concentration).


Even more wondrous is the Divine Force at work in Eretz Yisrael. How can we possibly explain or understand that the soil of the Holy Land (which may have the exact same mineral composition as soil in other lands) nonetheless produces a different fruit? That a grape grown in Chevron or in Zichron Yaakov is inherently different from a grape grown in California or France? That in some intangible way, these fruit not only sustain our bodies, but nourish our souls? That an additional measure of G-d's Divine Essence is given to us through the venue of the fruits of His Land?


On second thought, perhaps it is not so difficult to imagine after all. Food is the connecting link between body and soul. Without food, life ceases and the soul departs. But Jewish souls require a distinct type of food (that's what kashrus [kosher observance] is all about.) So why shouldn't they receive extra "nourishment" from their own special brand of Eretz Yisrael soul-food?


Such are the exalted thoughts that fill my mind as I fill my supermarket wagon. There is no doubt that living in the Holy Land adds a philosophical dimension to shopping.


But it's time to descend from my celestial orbit and reenter my earthly domain. I have one more stop to make, and an "earthy" one at that. I still don't have my Tu B'Shvat fruit.


So I drive across town to Chananya — a store in the Bukhari Quarter of Jerusalem. There, Chananya sells dried fruits, nuts, seeds, pods, peels, spices and all sorts of exotic products I cannot identify. Everything is stored in burlap bags, glass jars and open wooden boxes and sold by weight. The scents wafting through the air are heady, intoxicating. They conjure up images of caravans, spice-mountains, the Queen of Sheba, and the ketores — the incense used in the Beis Hamikdash (Holy Temple).


It was at Chanaya's that I first saw fresh carob fruit, not the hard, dried kind I remember from my childhood. These carobs were soft, sweet and chewy, dripping with carob honey. Chananya sells fresh dates and figs, too — really fresh, straight from the tree — full of thick honey (biblical devash refers to honey from dates, not bees.) I never tasted such dates, and I never liked figs, not until I met up with the genuine article in Chananya's store.


The store is always filled with people and I am always filled with wonder. What do they do with all those things they buy? I ask around. The elderly ladies of Sefardi extraction are the best source of information. They use these seeds, herbs, roots, nuts and leaves for food, spices, soups and medicines, for beauty concoctions, for Sabbath and Yom Tov delights, for every conceivable (and some not-so-conceivable) purpose. (All I ever use is pepper, salt, paprika and cinnamon, plus a little garlic since I married into a Hungarian family.)


Chananya's is definitely a Tu B'Shvat store and I am definitely delighted with my purchases and the morning's culinary guide. It has been an Eretz Yisrael-Tu B'Shvat experience par excellence.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes inspiring articles. Sign up for our daily update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Yaffa Ganz is the award-winning author of more than forty titles, including "A Different Dimension", from which this essay was adapted.


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© 2006, Yaffa Ganz, from "A Different Dimension", Hamodia Publishing