Spring is just around the corner, revitalizing trees – and us


At the end of January, I attended a seder on Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish new year for trees. The 15th of Shevat marks a turning point, when underneath the cold air, the sap of the trees is rising, readying for spring.

This was my first time celebrating trees at a seder. I enjoyed eating the fruits, including figs, pomegranates, dates and olives, and learning more about the meaning of trees and the fruits and how they impact us.

Since ancient days, trees have been used to represent life, growth, wisdom and prosperity, and they have the power to inspire us with a sense of gratitude and protection. When I walk through an allée, or an avenue of trees, I examine the shapes and branches and often compare them to people.

Years ago, I interviewed Joan Klostermann-Ketels, author of “PersonaliTrees: Let the Human Spirit Awaken in the Presence of Trees,” which is a beautiful picture book of trees that ascribes personality traits to them, as well as quotes.

At Aish.com, there is a great in-depth article, “Man is a Tree,” by Rabbi Shraga Simmons. The rabbi writes, “The Torah compares a person to a tree. Roots, branches and leaves.”

He goes on to write that humans are like trees because we both need the four basic elements – soil, water, air and fire – to survive. That is, we require the “soil” of a strong home base, water to stay hydrated, air to breathe for our life force, and fire or another source of warmth.

As winter moves into spring and our human cycles and rhythms change, trees also change, moving from reduced water intake in the winter to hydrating themselves as the weather warms.

In another article at Aish.com, “Tu B’Shvat: Three Inspiring Messages,” Adam Ross writes, “Tu B’Shvat’s message is not to let the difficult non-productive times in our lives define us. Like trees, we too live our lives in cycles, like the moon that waxes and wanes, shrinking and disappearing before growing and becoming full.

“Life is a cycle, spring is just around the corner and as the Talmud states, better times can come ‘in the blink of an eye.’ As we witness the start of the transition from winter to spring, Tu B’Shvat teaches and builds our patience and trust that good times are ahead.”

PATRICIA RASKIN, owner of Raskin Resources Productions, is an award-winning radio producer, business owner and leader. She is on the board of directors of Temple Emanu-El, in Providence, and is a recipient of the Providence Business News 2020 Leaders and Achievers award. Her “Positive Aging with Patricia Raskin” podcast is broadcast on the Rhode Island PBS website, ripbs.org/positiveaging.