Shabbat Inspirations July 16

Tisha B’Av (9th of month of Av) begins this Saturday night. It commemorates the destruction of the 1st and 2nd temples in Jerusalem, and over the course of time, other forms of Jewish collective trauma and memory have also become incorporated into the day’s meaning such that it is recognized as a day of communal mourning. Some Jews commemorate the day in a manner similar to Yom Kippur, through fasting and refraining from activities associated with joy. Tisha B’Av is the culmination of a 3-week period of reflection and mourning, and it is traditional to reach the book of Lamentations (Eicha).

This past year has provided a new perspective, and a different way to understand what is broken, and where our communal trauma lies. I invite you to spend some time with this collection of poetry, prayers and art that was created for this year, 5781. Bayit is building a soulful, inclusive and meaningful Jewish life for all ages and stages. 

Tisha B’Av is also a turning point. Next week is Tu B’Av (16th of the month of Av) a day for matchmaking and the start of the grape harvest. In a contemporary context it is often considered a Jewish day of love, perhaps similar to Valentine’s Day, and celebrated on the full moon. Linking the full moon with romance, love, and fertility is not uncommon. Biodynamic farming builds on the “co-creative relationships between humans and the earth” and integrates the rhythms and cycles of the earth, sun, moon, stars, and planets in understanding the influences on plant and animal development.

All told, July is a busy time in the New England garden and Shabbat offers a time to take a break and enjoy it. All this rain has given me a break in the mornings, as I haven’t been so pressed for time to water and do daily maintenance before I start my workday.

Yet too much water can be tough for plants and the surrounding soil. The rain can pull nutrients out of the soil, especially nitrogen, which is essential for photosynthesis, and oxygen, which is essential for root health. It might also compact the soil, or pull it away from the plants.

I’m keeping an eye out for plant problems – as catching them early is key to management. Fungal diseases are the biggest concern right now; tomatoes are particularly susceptible to early blight and septoria leaf spot and powdery mildew on cucurbits such as cucumbers, squash and melons.

July is also the time for weeding!

Common purslane (which is also edible) is able to produce over 240,000 seeds! All this rain has made them super happy, and they are sprouting up all over (at least in my yard).

The cooler summer evenings, when they come, also provide time for sitting on the porch and enjoying the garden. The work pays off with a dinner bounty of fresh vegetables, or even a snack of cherry tomatoes on the way to the car.

May we all be blessed with such abundance!