Tu B'Shvat, the 15th of Shvat on the Jewish calendar (this year, Monday, January 28, 2002) is the day that marks the beginning of a "New Year for Trees." This is the season in which the earliest-blooming trees in the Land of Israel emerge from their winter sleep and begin a new fruit-bearing cycle.

Legally, the "New Year for Trees" relates to the various tithes that must be separated from produce grown in the Holy Land. These tithes differ from year to year in the seven-year Shemittah cycle; the point at which a budding fruit is considered to belong to the next year of the cycle is the 15th of Shevat.

We mark the day of Tu B'Shvat by eating fruit, particularly from the "Seven Kinds" that are singled out by the Torah in its praise of the bounty of the Holy Land: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. On this day we remember that Man is a tree of the field (Deuteronomy 20:19) and reflect on the lessons we can derive from our botanical analogue.

A sampling of these lessons, based on the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, are presented in these pages:

The Human Tree — A look at the various parts of the tree—roots, trunk, branches, leaves, fruit and seeds—and their corresponding elements within the human being. Adapted from the Rebbe's teachings by Yanki Tauber

The Seven Kinds — Seven areas of our lives represented by the "Seven Kinds". Adapted from the Rebbe's teachings by Yanki Tauber

See also:

How a Stupid Little Ruler Saved My Life by Jay Litvin

We Are One by Tzvi Freeman

We Are Trees a meditation by Tzvi Freeman

Wheat and Dates a meditation by Tzvi Freeman

The Tu B'Shvat Mystical Seder a guide and overview by Rabbi Yrachmiel Tilles of the Ascent Institute of Safed