Leading Idea: Growth and the Passage of Time

Download the leading idea description here:  PDF  pdf-icon

Leading Idea: Growth and the Passage of Time

TuBishvat marks the ‘Birthday of trees’ – but what is it marking? Is it marking the tree’s age or the tree’s growth? In the case of trees, a tree is considered one year old on TuBishvat, even if it is planted a week before TuBishvat. This is important in Jewish law and tradition for determining when the fruit of a tree can first be eaten (fruit that ripens in its fourth year – that is, after its third Tu’Bishvat), and laws of shmitah (sabbatical year when the fruit is not harvested). Other meaning is derived from the time of year in which TuBishvat occurs – and this links it to the concept of growth. TuBishvat actually falls at the midpoint of winter – as spring approaches and the sap in trees begins to flow and trees begin to bud and flower. TuBishvat thus comes to mark a change from being in a state of latency to one of reneed growth.

Each year we get a year older – but how is this connected to growing up? When we talk about ‘growing up’, there are several ideas we might have in mind:

  • Growing up as getting older – the passage of time. Last year I was 8 and now I am 9 years old.
  • Growing up as physical development – growing physiologically from immature to mature. In children we generally also associate this with growing bigger. In older people we
  • Growing up as cognitive maturity – growing up as becoming wiser, more nuanced in our understanding of the world. Telling someone to ‘grow up’ in this sense is to tell them to act with more maturity.

Finally, does everything get older over time? Are there some things that don’t age or grow even as time passes?