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Tu B’Shevat in a Minute

Tu B’Shevat in a Minute

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When’s the last time you wished a tree Happy New Year? The 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat is a great opportunity. It’s known as Tu B’Shevat, the New Year for Trees.

Why do trees celebrate their New Year so much later than ours? It has to do with the rainy season in Israel, which commences with the festival of Sukkot. It takes four months for the rains to saturate the soil, nurture the trees and coax them into producing fruit. This is important to know if you are planning to give your tithes of fruits, as is done in the Land of Israel, because the required tithes vary from year to year. It’s also important if you are a tree and looking for something to celebrate.

We humans can also celebrate along with the trees

We humans can also celebrate along with the trees. After all, the Torah says, “Man is a tree of the field.” We are nurtured by deep roots, as far back as Abraham and Sarah; we reach upwards to the heavens while standing firmly on the ground; and when we do all this right, we produce fruits that benefit the world—namely, our good deeds.

Traditional Observances:

Eat some fruit on this day. Best if you can get some of those fruits for which Israel is famous: olives, dates, grapes, figs and pomegranates.

The blessing on fruit:

Ba-ruch atah Ado-nai, Elo-hei-nu me-lech ha-olam, borei pri ha-etz.

[Blessed are You, L‑rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the tree.]

If tasting a fruit for the first time in its season, recite the Shehecheyanu blessing before saying the fruit blessing:

Ba-ruch a-tah Ado-nai, Elo-hei-nu me-lech ha-olam, she-heche-ya-nu ve-ki-ye-ma-nu ve-higi-a-nu liz-man ha-zeh.

[Blessed are You, L‑rd our G‑d, King of the universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion.]

Some have the custom to eat carob. The master Kabbalist Arizal would eat fifteen types of fruit on this day!

Click here for more on Tu B’Shevat, including insights on its mystical significance.

Illustrations by Yehuda Lang. To view more artwork by this artist, click here.
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Howard Wright Jacksonvilel, Al. February 9, 2017

Thank you for the insight. We have about 10 or more oaks trees in our yard and I have learned to be thankful for the shade that they provided in the summer, in my back yard it is at least 20% cooler. So I smile and enjoy cleaning them up when I have to. Reply

Jürgen Friedrich Germany February 8, 2017

Plenty trees . . . make a forest A forest is much more than only 'plenty trees'. In ancient times the planet Earth was covered with 16 Million square kilometers of forest. Now only approx 6 mio.
Considering that each tree produces timber wood, because water evaporates 'in a certain relationship' to the quantity of wood dry mass, each forest contributes a lot to the climate.
An oak tree evaporates 345 tons of water for each ton of wood. Reply

DAVID H WEISS SPRING VALLEY NY January 29, 2015

The correct Hebrew name of the holiday is Tu BiShvat. Because there is a shva under the shin, the prefix is bi not b'. Reply

David N. Freeman Loxahatchee January 9, 2014

Fruit from Israel I have eaten a lot of fruit sent to the US from Israel. It has been wonderful.

Thank you to the trees. Reply

Anonymous Indiana January 23, 2013

Torah trumps science (again) I have a small orchard, and recently I was taught by an expert to feed my trees in late January. Gee - a nice meal and a blessing does sound like a great way to start the year, for both tree and farmer. Reply

ruth housman marshfield hills, ma February 8, 2012

the Pine Tree The pine is an evergreen that doesn't drop its needles as do leaves that are deciduous in fall. I always think of pine in terms of what we pine for, as in the English term for longing that is tinged with sorrow. As in a memory of someone beloved who has departed. So in the vision above, which I come to now, my take on this, and this is surely, always personal, is that the beautiful man can represent G_d, or something very beautiful, as in good. And no, the tree remains, and will remain, as evergreen itself seems to connote this, Ever Green. And so for memories, for what we pine for, and so for that very pointed tree, that stands tall, towards sky, and is also redolent of forest with its deep fragrance of pine cone, and needles. We need EL. And EL needs us.

In autumn in New England the splendid change of color in the trees is such that I raced to a tree some years ago, and hugged it. Then I flung myself on my bed inside, crying with the beauty of that tree, and that day in its splendor Reply

Anonymous Oakland, CA February 7, 2012

The Dream Perhaps you have followed Torah teachings, studied long and hard, overcome weaknesses and reached a level of spirituality that surprises even you. Yet, you fear that temptation and persons that you may be drawn to could influence you to err in your ways. Being concerned about this says that you are probably more developed than you may realize and perhaps you should listen to that voice within. Everybody faces the same fears and challenge from day to day. You're not alone in this. Reply

Renelda Moorehead New London, Ct. February 7, 2012

Tu B'Shevat I am so feeling this holiday. I still talk to trees, a joy brought forth from my childhood when my gradfather and I would go to the park to get spring water. We would talk to the trees and birds and flowers--and name them. Those were joyful days of childhood.
This holiday, Tu B'shevat is a beautiful tribute to the L-d's bounty. Be blessed. Reply

Bob san diego, CA August 16, 2011

Tu B'Shevat When does it actually start? sundown night before?? Reply

Anonymous anywhere, earth January 21, 2011

Many years ago the L-rd show me a vision. In the vision I saw and understood that I was a giant of a tree from the pine family. It was the biggest tree I have ever seen, reaching very high up towards the sky.
A beautiful man came along. I asked him if he was going to cut the tree down. I was worried. After a pause he said "no".
I have never fully understood that vision. Perhaps some of the readers might, so I shared it. Reply

Pablo Leon Silva Quito, Ecuador January 19, 2011

Let the trees celebrate Let's give G-d our thanks for having trees to enjoy the grace of G-d! Reply

Maria New York, NY January 18, 2011

Trees New Year "It's also important if you are a tree and looking for something to celebrate." Such fine sense of humor! Really wonderful at a time when obscene talk and crass behavior is presented by the secular media as hilarious and smart. Certainly, the path of the just is filled with true joy!
Happy New Year to all trees, human and vegetable! Reply