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The blessing of spring

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Spring may have officially begun with the arrival of the equinox on March 20th, but you wouldn't know it from today's weather in New York. Many places, including my own neighborhood, had snow. Perhaps thing will grow more springlike when the season arrives on the Jewish calendar, which is this Tuesday, the first day of Nissan, which also happens to be the first of April.

Nissan is known as Chodesh Ha'aviv, the month of spring. Aside from being the month in which the holiday of Passover, also known as Chag Ha'aviv, the holiday of spring, takes place, the month is distinguished for being the time for a special blessing on trees.

Although Tu B'Shvat is the holiday designated as the new year for trees (see Celebrating-trees-in-winter-the-holiday-of-Tu-BShevat), it is the month of Nissan that is designated as the time for a special blessing on the blossoming trees. “A person who goes out during the days of Nissan and sees trees in bloom, says, ‘Blessed are you L-rd our G-d, King of the Universe, Who did not leave anything lacking in His universe, and created in it good creatures and good trees, to give pleasure to humankind with them.’ ([Brachos 43b). While expressing appreciation for the beauty of the natural world, we derive spirtual meaning from our environmental awareness.

If you don't have flowering trees in your own neighborhood, consider a trip to some of the beautiful gardens in the New York area, like Planting Fields Arboretum, on Long Island and the Botanic Gardens in the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn.

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