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The New Year of Trees is Tu B'Shevat

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Categories: Tu B'Shevat

Tu B'Shevat is February 3rd, 2015

Carob Tree

Polli Gold Elm EarringsTu B'shevat is considered the Jewish New Year of Trees. Trees are extremely important in Judaism: trees are used metaphorically to consider G-d and life in Judaism and the planting of trees is holy. Combine that with the very modern importance of reclaiming the barren desert of Israel through planting trees, and it's easy to see why a celebration of trees is part of our tradition.

Tree of Life Blessing PlaqueThe Jewish New Year of Trees was originally the date Jews used to calculate the age of trees. A tree is as old as how many Tu B'shevats it has been on Earth. Why is this important -- to calculate the age of trees? Well, there is a Commandment in the Torah that people shouldn't eat the fruit from trees for the first four years: no one eats for the first three and then during the fourth year the fruit is picked but not eaten (instead is donated to "G-d"). Then after the tree reaches four years of age, people can eat the fruit. Go ahead and ask "why four years?" but there is no good answer except "it is Commanded."

Michael Aram Tree of Life Seder PlateMODERN CELEBRATION
The Tu B'Shevat seder began as a Kabbalistic Jewish mystical practice in the 17th century. Ecologically minded Jews have adopted Tu B'shevat as a time to honor conservation and sustainable agriculture. The seder pretty much consists of drinking wine, eating fruit, praising G-d for creating these things, and reminding ourselves that we are stewards of the Earth.
New Shalom Sesame DVD: Tu BishvatOne way we drive home the point is by eating carob. Carob is indigenous of the land of Israel and it takes a special meaning because of how long it takes to bear fruit: up to 70 years. "Why plant a carob tree if you won't live to eat its fruit?," an old man is asked in a Talmudic tale. The old man replies, "for my children and grandchildren". We must take care of this world for the next generation.

1 Comment

Yes, connecting to Israel via a Tu B’Shevat pinltnag project is uber-thematic especially an almond tree, the poster tree for Tu B’Shevat. The Israeli wildflower project looks interesting, but I’d want to check the seed species against a list of local invasive plants to be absolutely sure I wasn’t unleashing something potentially destructive to native habitats. I think about kudzu and Japanese bush honeysuckle and privet yikes. Each U.S. state has such a list online.I don’t see a list of wildflower packet seed species on the Israel Forever website.

By Sudha on November 25, 2015

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