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.
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.