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Rabbi Dina-Hasida Mercy's Website!

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Welcoming the Shabbat

You may ask why the first mitzvah of Shabbat is the kindling of lights. That is because Shabbat is actually a celebration of the Creator and His Creation. G‑d’s creation of the world follows a seven-day cycle, which peaks each Shabbat and begins anew. At Creation, the first thing that was brought into being was light. Therefore, it is appropriate to kindle lights at the start of Shabbat in commemoration of the first light that was created.

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Our Most Recent Blogs

Felonious Monk is Celebrating Tu-Bishavat

Felonious Monk is celebrating Tu Bishvat with a (daydream) hike in the Holyland! He is resting against an olive tree that is hundreds of years old. He reflects on how peaceful it is here with an ancient symbol of peace (remember the dove and the olive branch from the story of Noah?). He says a quiet prayer asking peace for…

A Chanukah tradition – latkes (The story behind them and receipe

Let me teach you a bit about the origins of the food customs associated with the eight days of Hanukkah – potato latkes.  Early texts recount the rebellion, the recapture of the temple and rededication ceremony, but references to the “miracle” connected to Hanukkah do not appear until nearly 600 years later. We learn that the remaining supply of consecrated…

The Real Short Version of the Passover Story

Passover or Pesach is the second most important holy day of the Jewish year and The Seder is the most commonly celebrated Jewish ritual, performed by Jews all over the world.   Passover commemorates the Hebrews’ liberation from slavery in Egypt and the “passing over” of the forces of destruction, or the sparing of the firstborn of the Israelites, when…

New Felonious adventure #2

Felonious is looking forward to making new friends, but he is worried that he will be shunned when people find out that he was in prison. If people could only get to know him before making up their minds! They would see that he is truly sorry for his crime. He is not that guy anymore! Overcoming his fears of…

Important Upcoming Dates

The 15th of Shevat on the Jewish calendar—celebrated this year on Monday, February 6, 2023—is the day that marks the beginning of a “new year” for trees. Commonly known as Tu Bishvat, this day marks the season in which the earliest-blooming trees in the Land of Israel emerge from their winter sleep and begin a new fruit-bearing cycle.

In the times of the Temple in Jerusalem, the 15th of Shevat served to separate one year from the next with regard to the laws of bringing one’s tithes of produce and orlah (the fruits of the first three years, which are forbidden for consumption) to the Temple as a recognition of thanks to God for the bounty of the earth. For the Jewish farmer, the calculation of which produce or fruits could be brought to the Temple was important and Tu B’Shevat provided the timeline.

 
Rabbinic sources say it is that since most of Israel’s rainy season is over by the 15th of Shevat, this date is considered the New Year for Trees.  The Jerusalem Talmud records an alternative explanation. Until the New Year for Trees, all trees can survive on the water from the previous year. After their New Year, the trees derive their life source from the water of the new year. If you are reading this in sub-zero weather, you may find the most comfort in the explanation of Rabbi Menachem Meiri (1249–c. 1310), who points out that the winter season extends from the month of Tevet until the month of Nissan. The 15th of Shevat is the midpoint between fall and spring. Once half the winter has passed, its strength is weakened, the cold is not as intense, and the budding process begins.
 
We mark the 15th of Shevat by eating fruit, particularly from the kinds that are singled out by the Torah in its praise of the bounty of the Holy Land: grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. On this day we remember that “man is a tree of the field” (Deuteronomy 20:19).
Our Next Major Jewish Festival/Holiday

Purim

The festival of Purim commemorates the Divinely orchestrated salvation of the Jewish people in the ancient Persian Empire from Haman’s plot “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day.” It is celebrated with Megillah readings, gifts of food, charity, feasting, and merriment.