Aley Chubeza #152 – March 18th-20th – Happy Pesach

Pre-Pesach messages:

§ There will be no delivery over Chol Hamoed, Wednesday, March 27, and Monday, April 1.

§ Deliveries scheduled for the Monday before Pesach will be brought up to Sunday, March 24.

Those who wish to expand your box or make a special holiday order, please inform us ASAP.

Subscribing to our weekly newsletter

The best way to receive messages and updates is via our weekly newsletter, which is published on our website and arrives directly to your email inbox. Those who do not receive the newsletter and wish to do so, please advise.  If you prefer to receive a hard copy along with your box, please notify me.

Open Day at Chubeza:

In keeping with our twice-yearly tradition, we invite you for a Chol HaMoed “pilgrimage” to Chubeza to celebrate our Open Day.

The Pesach Open Day will take place on Thursday, March 28, the 17th of Nissan, between 1:00 PM-6:00 PM. For those who have not yet experienced it, the Open Day gives us a chance to meet, tour the field, and nibble on vegetables and other delicacies. Children have their own tailor-made tours, designed for little feet and curious minds, plus activities and a vast space to run around and loosen up.  (So can the adults…)

On the Open Day, we also have a stand for vegetable sales, so you can replenish your vegetable supply.

Driving instructions are on our website under “Contact Us.” Please make sure to check this out before heading our way.

Chag Sameach from all of us at Chubeza! We look forward to seeing you!

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Written in Early Spring

For the past few weeks, it’s been official: spring is here already. The weather is appropriately chaotic—hot, then cold, with heat waves and showers taking turns surprising us with their appearance. It’s been almost two months since we’ve had actual rain, and the wheat growers around us are worried. Wheat cannot grow with irrigation, and spring is the time when the grains in the spike become filled (barley precedes wheat by a bit; more about this later). Without water they cannot do so, and the spike will remain empty. We join the farmers in their prayers for some hearty showers over the next few weeks.

Astronomically speaking, spring begins on the day of the vernal equinox, where the length of day is equal to the length of night. Spring ends on the summer solstice, when the day is longest and the night is shortest. For us in the northern hemisphere, spring begins on March 21st and ends on June 21st.  Spring is traditionally known as a season for awakening, renewal and love. This is the season for wooing and for romance, providing perfect weather for lovers. Yet in Israel, spring is not such a pleasant, temperate interlude.  Here, spring is the season of topsy-turvy weather—pleasant days which turn to rainy ones followed by a hazy heat wave, just like we’ve been seeing over the past few weeks. Yet, when the European immigrants arrived here, they couldn’t face bidding farewell to the European season of rejuvenation and blossoming, thus they promptly inserted it into the Israeli calendar. And indeed, regardless of the weather pattern, as they say in Proverbs, “No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.”

In the Bible, the term spring (aviv in Hebrew) defines a particular stage in the development of grain, the start of ripening when the stalk begins to harden. In our region, the first grain to ripen is the barley, and the month of aviv is that month when barley reaches the stage of development called “aviv.” This “aviv” of the grain takes place at a time when the rains have diminished, the sun is shining and the temperatures are beginning to rise. And so, in Hebrew, this transition time between winter and summer came to be called aviv. It is also the month that the Children of Israel came out of Egypt. The book of Exodus (9:31) recounts the effects of the plague of hail, saying, “And the flax and the barley were smitten; for the barley was in the ear, and the flax was in bloom. But the wheat and the spelt were not smitten; for they ripen late.”  The short spring of the month of Nissan is indeed a fine time to go out of Egypt for a sojourn in the Sinai Desert (as those Israelis congregating in Taba will certainly attest). Rashi even wrote, “This is what he indicated to them: See the kindness which He has done to you, for He brought you forth in a month in which it is fitting to go forth, not (too) hot and not (too) cold, and no rains.” (Commentary on Exodus 13:4)

There are those who claim that the word aviv derives from the word av, meaning father, the head of the family, the first in the family, denoting the very first ear of grain during the period of ripening. Others believe that the origin of the word comes from a different meaning of av – a fresh, young plant which is presently blossoming, such as ibei ha-nachal, the “green plants of the valley” mentioned in the Song of Songs, (6:11) and “odenu be’ibo,” (whilst still in its greenness), Job 5:12. Other languages, too, tend to take words for “first” or “early” as their roots for the season’s name, like primavera in Spanish and Italian and printemps in French. The English word spring comes from the notion of the “spring of the year,” when plants “spring up.”

And blossoming does indeed provide the pervading hue of the spring season, as the writer Eliezer Smoli wrote, “Anyone who traverses Eretz Yisrael at this time of the year, whether on foot or even by car, will be met by a flowering abundance wherever his eye shall turn. Like one vast colorful carpet covering the flat land from the north to the Negev, from the east to the west, mountain and valley, hill and dell, immersed in a swell of every varied color. A true celebration of flowering at this season of the year. Spring in the very fullness of the word. Yet one who looks closely at the sea of bloom before him will discern, at the very outermost part, at the edge of the dotted tapestry, a withering that is slowly creeping up, and here and there are signs of balding. It appears that out of intention and knowledge, as it were, the abundance of flowering is concentrated in one short, finite period, for behold, the rains are over and gone and the sun has emerged from its sheath. The power of the east overcomes the west, day by day. The rainy season, which fought a diligent, daily all-out war, surrendered at last to the sunny days. Upon the horizon, a misty heat wave rises and an idle breeze breaks through to cross the Jordan and swoop westward—with the withering and wilting in its wake.”

During this period, the beekeepers are preparing for their busy season to extract the honey that the bees prepared from the nectar gathered during the blooming season, from winter till now. At Chubeza, we’re also feeling the coming of the honey—our honey stock from last season is dwindling away. If you ordered a kilo of honey lately, you’ve heard that all we have left is a very limited assortment. Together with Daniella and Tamir, we await the bee season and the honey they will produce in another month and a half or two, from the wonderful flavors of their hives

Shepherds also celebrated at Pesach. Spring is the birthing time for lambs and goats, and there’s an abundance of milk, labeneh, cheese and butter. This is a good reason to hold a celebratory feast, to thank the Almighty that the winter has safely passed, and to pray that the entire herd—even the youngest animals—will go safely and peacefully to graze in the pasture.  To this day, a spring rite of Bedouin shepherds is to dedicate the first butter to Moch’an, their patriarch of nomadic shepherds. When the milking season comes, they use a leather pouch to collect the butter made from the milk produced during the first three days. On the third day, they prepare a great feast in honor of Moch’an, and only afterwards do the shepherds themselves partake of the new butter.

Pesach, the holiday of spring, ushers in the parade of agricultural holidays in Eretz Yisrael, with Nissan being the first month of the Hebrew calendar. During this holiday, the farmers are fortified with strength and many hours of sleep they accumulated during the slow winter season, where they were able to rest and restore their energy (and forget how hot last summer was…). Now they’re tackling their spring tasks, one of them being… (you guessed right) – spring cleaning!.  In ancient Persia, the first month, corresponding to March-April, was Adukanaiša, which apparently means “Irrigation-Canal-Cleaning Month.”

After sowing in tears, the barley has ripened, heralding the time to reap in joy. At the close of the first Pesach holiday, a traditional celebration was held to mark the barley harvest season, by the ceremonial first binding of the sheaves. A lovely description of this ancient ceremony and of its renewal by the Zionist Movement is depicted on this PowerPoint presentation by Machon Shitim (in Hebrew).

This ceremony and this season were also accompanied by great apprehension. As the entire season’s crops are about to ripen and become ready to harvest, the volatile weather placed tremendous pressure upon the farmers. In the words of the Yalkut Shimoni, “At Pesach, one will not find simchah (joy) written even once. Why? For at Pesach, the yield is judged, and no one knows whether this year will bring a yield or not.”

Accordingly, the vegetables in our field are making staunch efforts to be able to show up at your holiday tables, without much help from the heavenly showers. The lettuce is adorning itself, boasting its importance as maror at the Pesach Seder. The celery is racing to grow nicely, to serve as your karpas; the fresh fava bean is grinning under its pod at the non-Ashkenazi Jews among us. Meanwhile, bursting with the scents and flavors of spring, the parsley and celery roots, carrot and other soup vegetables are anxiously awaiting their annual date with the kneidlach at those tables unvisited by the fava beans.

And before we part, we extend warm wishes and a message of love to Dror (Monday and Wednesday deliveries in Jerusalem) and Naomi on the birth of their son (in perfect timing with Chubeza deliveries. How thoughtful…);to Ya’ara, my assistant whom most of you have met, and Dotan on the arrival of sweet little Kim, and to our dear Lobsang, one of our most veteran workers, who finally received a teudat zehut and a permanent status in Israel.

We join in the hope and prayers that this holiday and this coming season will be blessed with honey, milk and the fruit of the land, which will bring health, peace and happiness. Chag sameach!

Alon, Bat-Ami, Yaara and the Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S SPRING BOXES?

Monday: Lettuce, fresh garlic, snow peas, tomatoes, beets, fava beans, celery/celeriac, cucumbers, broccoli/ cauliflower, parsley, green cabbage/ purple cabbage

 In the large box, in addition: garlic chives, carrots, daikon

 Wednesday: beets, cabbage, cucumbers, cilantroqparsley, snow peas, lettuce, fava beans, celery/celeriac/parsley root, green garlic, carrots, tomatoes

 In the large box, in addition: broccoli/cauliflower, garlic chive, kale/Swiss chard

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