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Tu B’Shevat: Celebrating Nature and Changing our Own

Published in Times of Israel by Dasee Berkowitz
Posted on February 1, 2018

Can a person ever really change their nature? Can I?

There are moments as a parent — and as a person — when I feel I have had it. When patterns of behavior (mine or my children’s) make me feel like I am locked in an endless repetitive cycle. Why are they behaving this way? Why is this how I choose to respond again and again? Our daily battles over screen time or mealtime. The mismatch of their desires and my expectations.

During another season of the year, like the month of Elul leading up to Rosh Hashanah, personal change is the language of the day. At that time, it lines up with a clear process. Teshuvah invites me to work through what’s going wrong to get to something working right again. It’s like the Jewish 12 steps.

In the late summer months the metaphor of the Book of Life calls to me. How will each of my actions be counted and weighed? Will they bring more life or more death to the world? Can I be more generous, loving and caring to those around me, or will pettiness, small-mindedness and indifference take over? The metaphor of God as a judging King creates high stakes. It’s an “or else” relationship to the spiritual world.

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