April Showers Bring May Flowers. I heard this often as a kid, eager to move from the gray days of April to the sunny days of May. At the time, it was difficult for me to grasp that it was the rain which made the flowers and fruits of Spring possible. Shevat is like that. It is the beginning of the beginning. During this month, a month of rain, we celebrate the New Year of the Trees, on Tu Beshvat. Before the flowers blossom and the fruits ripen, we are already thanking G!d for nature’s candy. During this month, in the weekly Torah portions we read about the Jews leaving Egypt (even though it did not actually happen until two months later in the month of Nissan). Before we become free, we are commemorating freedom. Why not wait until the climax of Spring to give thanks for fruit? Why celebrate freedom when we are still slaves in a foreign land? What is it about praising the potential for growth? It’s Tikvah, Hope. A hope that is so strong, it can actually bring experiences, people and places into existence. During this month, we have the opportunity to reflect on whatever it is we wish to bring into our lives: a job, a spouse, a hobby, a new perspective ….. and find joy in all those steps that we have taken to get there. And though it may rain, or snow, more than we would like, it may just be what we need to transform our dreams into reality.