Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Need to breathe

I deal better with Events in my life by sections.

Up until Monday I couldn't think past EN's surgery (internal hernia and undescended testicle he was born with). Until Zach's case is settled, I can't think past February 22nd which we THINK might be the final decision.

But there are some fun things going on in my life... this Saturday we're having a pot luck lunch by us with a few of our friends. 3 single guys, a young couple with no kids, an older couple with a 19 year old daughter and the Rabbi and his family. They have a 3 year old daughter and a 1 1/2 year old daughter so that will keep NS nice and happy... and the noise level bearable.

This weekend is the Jewish holiday of Tu b'Shvat, which literally means the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shvat. In practical terms, it's the Jewish Arbor Day and since there are MANY Jewish laws pertaining to trees, fruits, fields, the vine, etc. it has significance. Less so now that there is no Temple, but it's still important if you're a Jewish farmer living in Israel.

Basically we take this day to celebrate the fruits of the fields, the vine and the trees. There are '7 species' that are commonly attributed to the Land of Israel and they are wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranate, olives and dates.

There is a somewhat common tradition to have at the beginning of the meal on Tu b'Shvat a showing, if you will of these and other fruits. Almonds, walnuts, peaches and berries to name a few, in addition to wine are served and each food has some sort of symbolism (mostly Kabbalistic) attributed to it. There are various passages said with regard to the particular food, a blessing is said and then the item is eaten. There are also 4 cups of wine. Starting off with a white wine, which symbolizes the fallow, barren fields, the second cup has a bit of red wine added to it, the third cup has even more red wine added and the final cup completes the seasonal cycle and we're in the full ripeness of harvest.

I searched online for a Tu b'Shvat seder that 'spoke' to me and unfortunately nothing did. So in the end, we decided that the food itself would have components of the seder. One woman will be making 'drunken pasta', which is pasta that is partially cooked in wine (although wine will be served with the meal), I'll be making a turkey breast cooked with a variety of dried fruits and almonds and I'll be making a tomato salad with olives and pine nuts. For dessert we'll be having peach cobbler.

So yeah... I'm looking forward to this. And then in a month or so is Purim and I've got some great ideas for that... even though it will be just me and the boys.

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