“Look at that tree, Imma! It’s loaded with REAL tangerines!”

(I have to agree with him. Real fruit on a real tree is exciting- at the grocery store, I always have to remind myself that these bright neon colored oranges are actually not machine manufactured, and no, they weren’t born right here on the shelves! I’ll bet to a kid, seeing real fruit on an actual tree is an eye-opening experience similar to the first time they realize their teacher doesn’t sleep under the desk at night!)

The truth is- I too like to stop for a second and look at the fruit trees – that is when I’m not rushing as fast as my legs can carry me to catch the bus. It’s as if the tree is shouting:

“Look at me! I’m a living miracle- Every day I change and grow in such minute steps- that you can hardly discern how I am different one day from the next. Until one day, I suddenly am strong enough to sprout small buds, flower, and create beautiful tasty fruits!”

My friend has a grandfather who is heard to say every time he peels an orange: “I just can’t understand how anyone can eat an orange without believing in the Creator. Just look at the packaging! (He’s an engineer) “Each orange slice has numerous tiny pulp-juice-packets, so you can get all the juice without any spilling.”

Speaking of oranges- orange, tangerine, and grapefruit trees (on just about every other block!) are simply loaded with fruit during this wintery time of year. (Yes, it finally did start to rain here in Israel! Not “rain”, like last month, but “R-A-I-N”, with thunder, lightning, and the whole works! Hmm? You’re asking why I’m happy about this?
Well, fortunately, I wasn’t stuck outside in the middle of it- it happened at the perfect time- late at night, while everyone was sleeping. Ok, it did wake us up, but we fell back asleep, it’s alright.)
Even the children’s “rain chants” here in Israel take a somewhat more positive outlook on rain- as opposed to “Rain, rain, go away, come again another day”, the Israeli version (translated) is: “Rain, come! And bring me a “Crembo” treat! If you stop, bring me an ice-pop to eat!” (“Crembo”: Chocolate covered ball of marshmallow fluff, served in the winter in place of ice-cream)

Rain is very important for the crops here in Israel. A few years ago we weren’t getting enough rain, and at one point the rabbinical leaders publicized a special instruction regarding added prayer for rain in all the synagogues. Actually, Israel’s’ dependence on rain is not by chance.

While learning about the Exodus from Egypt, Jewish children are taught about the Nile River-the major irrigation resource in Egypt, something which Israel- the supposed-to-be-perfect land to which G-d brought the Jews, does not have. The teachers stress this Egypt-versus-Israel difference and its’ inevitable prayerful outcome by part of Israeli residents during the winter season- showing the way our loving Creator has implanted in the land itself a pathway to faith and prayer.

So maybe that’s why Israel is called the Holy Land! ☺
What a long tangerine tangent! What do you think? Should “tangerine” be added to our Tu Bishvat shopping list this year?