Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews

Don’t Replant the Burnt Down Trees!

I will tell you about trees.

I grew up in a forest. I lived amidst a countless number of trees until I moved to the Capital of the Netherlands, when I was already 20. I know what a tree looks like; and silence; and a dark night.

Reb Michel Nager told me why Jews have a special blessing for tree fruits. We could just make the blessing that we say on eating veggies and roots, but no – there is a specific one for tree fruits and nuts. Why?

Really, we could live without. Grains, legumes, vegetables and roots would give us all nutrition that we would ever need. That means that tree produce is an extra. It’s a cherry on top (pun intended). That means that tree fruits are a special treat. And extra generosity deserves extra gratefulness: an extraordinary benediction.

This Shabbat is the Lews’ yearly tree planting and appreciating festival: Tu B’shvat is HERE, Replanting the Fire Burned Trees – Israeli schoolchildren will leave their classrooms to plant trees … but this Tu biShvat, things will be very different because of the recent forest fires.

However, Ecologists advise Israelis to resist tree-planting after fires! Burnt forests and woodlands should be left alone to rejuvenate naturally, experts say. Orchards could be an exception to that, cultivated and unnatural monocultures as they are. You might never have guessed if you hadn’t listened to a specialist.

The custom to eat dried fruit, no doubt comes from fresh fruits being unavailable outside of Israel. In the Promised Land we eat fresh tree fruits more than usually. And not only from the Seven Species, including (red and white) juice from grapes and foods made with oil of olives. Some have a whole Seder for it – after the Kiddush and eating grain (cookies or bread) – because it does fall on Shabbat this year.

This Seventh Day will be: Shabbat B’shalach, Shabbat Shirah and Tu biShvat. In short: the Sea split, Moses and the Jewish People sang, Miriam and the women sang, Devorah sang. And it’s New Year for the Trees. What’s the connection? All the singing could make you nuts.

Shabbat B’shalach Shirah shalom, Happy Tu biShvat!


About the Author
The author is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (DES - Diethylstilbestrol), born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a vegan for 8 years now. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach and lehavdiel bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff and Rav Meir Lubin. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science, Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, GLBTQAI, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quit a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500st blog post with the ToI. * He likes doing age-appropriate and age-inappropriate things and looks forward to getting to know his timeless mature out-of-the-box soul mate. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. To see other blog posts by him, a second blog - under construction - can be found by clicking on the Website icon next to his picture.
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