The word Tu B’Shvat literally means the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shvat. It is called the New Year of the Trees in the Talmud and falls in January or February.
As are all Jewish holidays, Tu B’Shvat is very unique and teaches us many deep lessons that we can apply to our everyday lives.
On a purely physical plane, Tu B’Shvat is the time in Israel when the tree’s sap begins to flow, the blossoms of the almond tree appear, and although winter is still bringing wind and rain, spring flowers like the red poppies begin to dot the hills with color.
It 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.
On a deeper level, Tu B’Shvat is the point in time when we reflect on the world G-d gives us and we try to appreciate all of nature, especially the Land of Israel.
It is customary to express our gratitude by eating of the seven fruits for which Israel is praised which are: wheat, barley, grapes/wine, figs, pomegranates, olives, and finally dates/honey.
Although it is best to purchase the food in Israel and eat it in the Holy Land, if this is impossible it is sufficient to do so outside of Israel, as long as Israel is where your heart is!
There is a tale told of a Hassidic Rabbi who told his students that if only they lived in the Land of Israel, they would not have to eat these fruits – they would just go outside and drink in the beauty of the land in order to celebrate Tu B’Shvat!
Although Israel has a land area approximately the size of the US state of New Jersey, it is blessed with a wide variety of dramatic landscapes and diverse regional ecologies:
– The Golan Heights with the snow capped mountains of the Hermon and many springs and waterfalls.
– The Galilee with its green hills, and the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River.
– The Mediterranean coastal plain.
– The Shefela or central hill country.
– The semiarid mountainous areas of the capital Jerusalem, and Judea and Samaria.
– The Judean Desert with the Dead Sea that is its own microclimate.
– The deserts of the Negev and the Arava.
– Eilat and the Red Sea coral reefs.
Tu B’Shvat is a great opportunity to develop our love of Israel and express our gratitude to Hashem for allowing us to live in such a beautiful world.
The United with Israel staff wishes everyone a Happy Tu B’Shvat!