Happy Tu B’Shvat from Leon and the Jewrotica Team


Written by Leon. Leon is an experienced Jewrotica writer who has published eleven poems on Jewrotica. Experience Leon’s poetry here, and his new book of poetry Beyond Time and Space. Photo by Leon.

Rated PGTu B’Shvat literally means the 15th day, the full moon, of the month of Shvat. It is the new year for trees. Trees?? Why do trees need birthdays? The Bible stipulates that fruit cannot be eaten until the fifth year after a tree has been planted in the ground. So in order to remember the age of a tree Tu B’Shvat was set as the marker in time. A tree planted on the 14th will be one year old on the 16th. This makes it easier to keep track of tree ages. (The same method was used for kings and animals).

The Kabbalists turned this minor occasion into a major spiritual festival based around the Tree of Life and the fruits of Divine abundance. They designed a ceremony that mimics the seder night of Pesach: four cups of wine, four levels of reality, the material, the emotional, the intellectual and the spiritual. It is customary to eat 15 (Tu) types of fruit and to be aware of those with hard shells that need to be cracked to release their nutrition (material world); those that are vulnerable on the outside but have a seed to be released on the inside (emotional world); and those with edible seeds and are eaten whole (intellectual world). The highest level – the level of the spirit – has no fruit associated with it, it is represented by the nigunim – wordless songs. Enjoy.


The Tree

You are that Tree
Whose roots lie in the sky;
Your trunk, smooth and curved,
Stretching between heaven and heart.
I lie down in the shadow of your foliage
Finding my resting place
Nestled in your gaze,
While you reach out your limbs
To enwrap me in your Love;
Your fruit, ripe and luscious,
Promising, promising eternal Life.

A Tree in St. Michael’s Park

Palaces and canals,
Parks and cobbled stones –
St. Petersburg in summer.
The royal gardens with its
Tall trees and scattered lovers
With splendid cut grass
Not to be trod upon;
A little bit of London
Tacked on to St. Michael’s palace.
And there, right in the center
An amazing sight –
A tree growing sideways
Yes, a tree growing sideways.
Roots firmly implanted,
Well grounded,
Perfectly stable
With limbs, both
Torso and arms
Stretching an impossible stretch.
I stand amazed to see you there
So patiently reaching out
Begging me to approach
To enter your foliage.
I step over the barrier
Into the forbidden zone
Drawn to you by an
Irresistible force that
Defies all gravity.
And as I draw intimately near
Your leaves whisper
Their welcome and part
So slightly, letting me in.
I caress your smooth bark
And feel your strength
Flowing through rising sap
That reaches those parts
That others can’t touch.
I encircle you
Holding tight
And climb your trunk –
As fingers and toes explore
All crooks and crannies
Causing your boughs
To sway in precarious delight.
And horizontally I travel
Enwrapped in your arms
With your leaves, like a veil
Surrounding me, protecting me,
Exciting me, enticing me,
As I search for and find
That spot, that special place
That marker, that nest,
That shadow in the Tree
Where I can lie and nestle
And know that I am home –
In You.

I am a late-comer to poetry especially Jewish-laced love poetry. In the last two years I have written about 50 such poems that I am now trying to publish under the title - The Metaphysics of Love. They are about love - love for women as a metaphor for the Divine love - sometimes employing very erotic images inspired by the Song of Songs and Kabbalistic literature.