Winter is upon us. The trees have been slumbering. But now they begin to rise and shine.

As these beauties wake, their sap begins to ascend.

The sap flows throughThe roots nourish the tree via growing cells that conduct water and nutrients. This process begins from the roots, through the trunk, to the branches and leaves. The tree gives birth to the fruits of its labor in the spring.

The sap’s ascension begins its journey on Tu B’Shevat, the “New Year” of the trees.

In our tradition, the tree is a symbol of man. The structure, functions and gifts of the tree belong to us, too. And just as the sap begins to arise on Tu B’Shevat in the tree, so does it in us.

Let us take a closer look.

The roots of a tree correspond to our biblical mothers and fathers.1

The roots nourish. The father of faith, Abraham. The cosmic, compassionate mother, Rachel. The harmonic Jacob. All of our mamas and papas deliver water and nutrients (the sap) to our soul. Their qualities and their actions feed and anchor us. The lives they led and the challenges they passed provide sustenance for our own journeys. They help us from falling. They are guideposts for a Divinely touched life.

The trunk of the tree correlates to the people of Israel. The trunk is the gateway for feeding the limbs. The trunk gives a tree shape and strength.

The people of Israel assimilate the roots nutrients for growth and understanding. Then, the Jewish people act as a “plumbing system,” carrying that inherited sap while beginning to make it their own. The sap - faith, steadfastness,history - will expand up the length of the trunk.

Some trunks grow continuously and some incrementally. Some Jewish people grow continually and some incrementally. No matter, they grow.

The branches represent the tribes of Israel and the individual tribe members, who spread away from one another.

Like branches, each person develops their own unique patterns and form. The scholar. The artisan. The businessman. The mother. The father. The philosopher. The leader. The follower. They have all been raised on that liquid gold. We need them all.

Branches will grow leaves, exposing them to sunlight by stretching them towards the sky. The leaves will activate the process of photosynthesis—the ability to harness the sun’s energy in order to make food. As individuals, weThe fruits’ odyssey culminates with our produce have amassed a storehouse from our mothers, fathers and the Jewish collective. We have been empowered. The sap flows within us. We are now able to mobilize our own staff of life, our own food.

The fruit of the tree corresponds to the good deeds performed by each Jewish soul.

The fruits’ odyssey begins at the roots and culminates with the produce—our produce. The sap’s journey has taught us what we need to know. We now bring it to fruition through repairing our world, one act at a time.

Tu B’Shevat signals a shift in season, a new year for the trees. But it is so much more than that. If taken advantage of, this annual Jewish holiday signals a new year for us as well. As the sap of the tree comes to life, so do we.

Beginning with the movement upward, we will lengthen and mature throughout the next few months. Come spring, we will produce the fruits that will sustain us for the year.