On Tu BiShvat, we often celebrate the “New Year of the Trees” by planting seeds and trees that will sprout and grow throughout the spring. Although it is cold and snowy for many of us in North America, Tu BiShvat in Israel is often the first sign of spring, when the blossoms and seedlings emerge from the cold ground.
Tu BiShvat is also a holiday about Savlanut (patience), one of our core Sci-Tech values. When you plant an apple tree you don’t immediately have apples in your backyard and when spring comes our gardens aren’t immediately filled with blossoming flowers. Planting seeds is an investment in the future. After we plant a tree we know with patience we will see it grow and bloom. With patience we might also see new birds, insects, or mammals that are attracted to our tree.
STEM too requires patience. When testing out a hypothesis, proving a new theorem, or building a robot, each step plants seeds for future discoveries or creations. You might mix two chemicals together and expect a big reaction but then nothing happens. Through that experience you are learning about the properties of each chemical, which can lead you to future discoveries. In the future you might use a glitch that made your robot walk in circles to create something that you want to move in a circular motion.
Rabbi Tarfon Teaches us “Lo alecha hamlacha ligmor, v’lo atah ben chorin l’hivatel mimena – It is not your responsibility to finish the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” (Pirkei Avot 2:16). As innovators and scientists, each experiment we do might not yield the results that we are looking for, but rather than giving up, we can take the opportunity to grow. As you celebrate the New Year of the Trees, we at Sci-Tech challenge you to plant seeds in your innovations and grow like a tree. Is there a project or experiment you’ve been thinking about? This Tu BiShvat is the time to try it, and if it doesn’t work, ask yourself what you learned and what seeds you planted.
Tu BiShvat also gives us a chance to celebrate and appreciate our natural surroundings, which too requires savlanut. Take a minute this weekend to stop and appreciate the trees near your house and notice all the animals that call our trees home. Think about how you can plant seeds for our planet. They can be literal seeds of trees to offset greenhouse gas emissions, or flowers to help threatened bee populations. You can also plant seeds for the future of our planet by recycling, picking up trash, and using reusable material to protect natural resources.
Let us know how you will be planting seeds this Tu BiShvat by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tagging us on Facebook or Instagram @URJSciTechEast.