Even though frost is still on the ground and we are snuggling up with a bowl of matzo ball soup to keep us warm, it's time to celebrate Tu B'Shevat, the New Year of Trees. This holiday takes place on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat which occurs in the winter. Why, you may ask, do we celebrate the New Year of Trees while we are suffering through cold, snow and ice in many areas of the country? As is the case with many Torah laws, the Halachah is based on what happens in the Land of Israel. By the 15th day of Shevat most of Israel's rainy season is over, the ground has become saturated with the rains of the year which causes the sap to start rising in the tree, and thus fruit can begin to bud! More info on what is Tu B'shevat here.
In contemporary Israel, the day is celebrated as an ecological awareness day and trees are planted in celebration. It reminds Jews of our connection to the earth and to our role as caretakers of the environment. The Torah is called a “tree of life, showing how trees connect to the highest Jewish values. According to Midrash, “When G‑d created the first man, He took him and showed him all the trees of the Garden of Eden, and said to him, ‘See My works, how beautiful and praiseworthy they are. And everything that I created, I created it for you. Be careful not to spoil or destroy My world—for if you do, there will be nobody after you to repair it. (Kohelet Rabah).
So why plant trees in Israel? Here are five reasons to plant a tree this year:
- We are replenishing the earth. Planting a tree is the simplest thing you can do to help with climate change.
- Trees can be planted to mark any occasion but are particularly symbolic after a child is born. In this case, it represents both the creation and the miracle of life. Both are unique and original and grow miraculously from a single seed.
- Trees can also be planted to honor the memory of a loved one or to celebrate any lifecycle event.
- This act celebrates our joys and it literally plants a stake of hope and optimism in the future of Israel. We are as strong as the roots of an oak tree and are filled with faith and hope.
- Enhance your trip to Israel by participating in a tree planting while you are there. This a memorable and special way to beautify the Land of Israel while helping it to grow and flourish for years to come.
Thanks to the generosity of ModernTribe customers who made a purchase on Giving Tuesday, we were able to donate 10% of profits that day towards planting trees in Israel through the JNF. Over the last 100 years, through the Jewish National Fund, over 250 million trees have been planted in the land of Israel. Thank you for taking part in sustaining our world; we hope to continue to plant even more trees this year.