[Check out Rabbi Kaminsky's blog. Ed.]
It’s Sunday morning here in Adelaide; at 11:45 a.m. it’s already 102 degrees. Heat is expected to break tomorrow night, and we’re anticipating that with great eagerness.
A visitor to our congregation several months ago wanted to know if people in the Southern Hemisphere reschedule Jewish holidays for six months later than the Northern Hemisphere. It’s true that it’s been an adjustment to think of the High Holy Days as falling in the spring, and to attempt to reimagine Pesach as a fall holiday.
Tu b’Shvat has always seemed to me to be one of those holidays that’s randomly assigned a date without any attention to the growing calendar. On the east coast, it’s usually one of the very coldest days of the year. Even in Israel, it’s mid-way through the growing season and not a particularly notable time of year, despite the blossoming of the almond tree.
Here in Australia, we’re just about at the end of harvesting fruit trees. I have an enormous peach tree in my backyard, and for weeks I’ve been trying to figure out how to unload the many pounds of peaches I’ve been harvesting. On Shabbat morning, I was out early picking several dozen peaches to bring to shul to share. It struck me as a wonderful novelty to actually have tree fruits ready and available for picking on the day of Tu B’Shvat. Maybe the rabbis had the Southern Hemisphere in mind when they chose the date!