Tu B’Shevat

Today is Tu B’Shevat, the 15th of Shevat on the Jewish calendar, and 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.

Halachically, the “New Year for Trees” relates to the various tithes that are separated from produce grown in Israel. 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 today – the 15th of Shevat.

We mark the day of Tu B’Shevat by eating fruit, particularly from the kinds that are singled out by the Torah in its praise of the bounty of the Land: grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates.

It has also become popular in recent years to conduct Tu B’Shevat seders, incorporating environmental themes, readings, and verses, surrounding the eating of the above mentioned items. Tu B’Shevat has also become a day to plant trees and raise awareness about Judaism’s position on the environment.

Among the many great resources out there explaining Tu B’Shvat and how to conduct a Tu B’Shevat seder, I particularly want to mention Vine of David’s excellent resources, written from a Messianic Jewish perspective – Plant: Nurturing, Repairing, Providing, Giving, and Bloom: A Tu Bishvat Haggadah.

Chag Sameach!

About Rabbi Joshua

I'm a Rabbi, writer, thinker, mountain biker, father and husband ... not necessarily in that order. According to my wife, however, I'm just a big nerd. I have degrees in dead languages and ancient stuff. I have studied in various Jewish institutions, including an Orthodox yeshiva in Europe. I get in trouble for making friends with perfect strangers, and for standing on chairs to sing during Shabbos dinner. In addition to being the Senior Rabbi of Simchat Yisrael Messianic Synagogue in West Haven, CT, I write regularly for several publications and speak widely in congregations and conferences. My wife is a Southern-fried Jewish Beltway bandit and a smokin' hot human rights attorney... and please don’t take offense if I dump Tabasco sauce on your cooking.
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