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Eating of the seven species of Israel has been a long tradition of Tu BShvat. But that changed around two thousand years ago, when the Jewish people forgot how to sing the song 'Eretz Chitah uSorah vGefen uTe'enah.'
Jews tried to figure out how to get the fruits of Israel, to connect to the Holy Land.
Then they were told, 'You can't eat the fruits of Israel outside of Israel. We have to make sure that the laws of Maser and Shmita, and Orlah (fruits from trees in their first three years) are followed.' And thus we have the first divestment campaign against Israel. And the BDS movement had begun. It was religious Jews keeping the laws of the land of Israel that started the BDS movement.
What's A Date
Dried fruits became popular. Refrigeration was impossible to come by in the 800s and dried fruit seemed to be the only way to keep your fruit from spoiling. On another note, there were no decent places to take your wife for a night out on the town.
Canned vegetables were out of stock in all the grocery stores, so dried dates became quite popular. They needed the dates to last, as they tasted disgusting and they were never finished. Many hosts laid out dates before their guests, but the guests would only take one, before realizing they don't like dates. And hence, dried dates became a big seller. And they had a great shelf life. To this day, you canfind dried dates in Israel from the early 800s, dried as they were then.
It happened in a grocery store named Plitzelas. It was a very popular store in 874, as it had two shelves full of food. A Frum Jew who was sinning, started eating dried fruit. He came and showed the dried fruit of Israel to everybody in Lvov. He was eating of the dried dates. Yet, there was no Pinchas to kill him. As he was sinning and being chastised, the truth came out. He was not eating dates. There was no pit. To quote Yievgenie, 'You fool. You would've chocked if that was a date. There are no pits. Let me show you how to eat a date.' And so, Yievgenie found a date and started to sin. And he was the first annoying person who felt the need to show somebody how to open a date the "right way."
As it turned out, the supposed sinner was eating apricots. Hence, he was not fulfilling the Mitzvah of eating of the seven fruits of Israel and blessing the fruits on Tu BShvat, and thus going to Gehenim (hell).
Dried dates became popular years later, once they added the walnuts inside. That was until Chaim found a way to pull out the walnuts. It was at that point that people started to just take and eat the walnuts.
Apricots Become Popular in Europe
Europeans are known for not knowing how to make decent food that is not meat.
In the late 1600s fruits of Israel were accepted in many communities of Europe. The Misnagdim said you can eat fruits of Israel outside of Israel as long as they're expensive.
Even so, many kept eating apricots. Shouts were heard in the streets during the month of Shvat, 'But apricots aren't from Israel.' To which Rabbi Pinchas Ben Mishehu said, 'But dried fruits are.' Rav Pinchas has no relation to Pinchas Ben Elazar, and thus didn't have to kill anybody to make his point (which would've been a Kidush H'- the community was very annoying).
Arguments continued for many years, as that was the tradition. One lay-leader said, as lay-leaders can be annoying, 'Tu BShvat is connected to the tradition of not eating new fruit from a tree that is less than three years old in Israel.' To which Rav Pinchas responded, 'Dried apricots don't grow on trees.'
But they do. And dried fruit trees were found. Old withered trees.
And the arguments continued, 'But apricots are not native to Israel. So Maser and Terumah and Orlah do not apply.' Yet, after much study and discourse it was concluded that apricots give you a stomach ache. And hence, they are like the dried fruit that grows on the trees of Israel. And thus like dried dates, which are native to Israel and grow from trees dried apricots are native to Israel, even though they are not from there. A Gezarah Shava of sorts.
They were Talmud scholars and were thus able to explain it. I cannot go into the full discourse now. I just know there was a lot of yelling and Rabba wasn't for using SO2.
The tradition of Tu BShvat now is to have a stomach ache. The holiday can also be celebrated with stomach cramps. Many Ashkenazim have the tradition to celebrate by drinking a gallon of milk. Though, dried apricots are a requirement. Dried apricots along with dried dates and milk is the best way to fulfill the Mitzvah of feeling nauseous.
There have been many arguments in communities around the world, but it all comes back to stomach aches. In Mesopotamia they noticed that eating raisins in bulk was killing their stomaches, and they thus agreed that grapes are one of the seven species of Israel. So, they eat raisins and apricots. To quote an excited Mesopotamian, 'Dried apricots also give me stomach aches. So it must be part of Tu BShvat tradition. They give me a stomach ache and diarrhea at the same time. When I eat them with raisins, my stomach never feels worse.'
Other Notes on the Holiday
Now, in Hebrew schools they teach the song 'Eretz Chitah uSorah vGefen uTe'enah,' and the kids have no idea what it means. So, they eat Tapuchim, because they know how to say it in Hebrew.
Others contended that money doesn't grow on trees. The Jewish National Fund took a big loss for that. Now they have a hard time convincing kindergartners to give them money to plant trees in Israel.
Dried olives didn't make it to the Tu BShvat Seder tradition, as they settle the stomach. However all forms of nuts made it into the holiday lexicon, especially almonds, as they kill your stomach.
Yievgenie had no idea how to open figs. Marcus was the first to show people how to eat dried figs. As it turns out, dried figs are very similar to not dried figs. Not dried figs are just not as dry. You can eat them as well on Tu BShvat.
It is now tradition to also share annoying jokes about nuts and dates in pun form.
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They wanted to clean the silver on the Torah. Instead, they Polished it.
You get it? People from Poland are Polish. They should‘ve polished the silver. Nobody knows what it means. Maybe put a Polish person on it. If you're Polish, we do not mean to offend you. At the Kibbitzer, we are sure that many Polish know how to polish very well.
The Jerusalem Shofar carrying bag and water bottle. Perfect for when you need to blow the Shofar on a Tiyul. (saying something about a Shofar on a hike was where our creativity on this joke came to a halt)