As green living gets more popular so does the celebration of the Jewish New Year of Trees which takes place on Tu B'Shevat (the 15th of the month of Shevet).
Many Jews celebrate Tu B'shevat by honoring and educating about conservation. Celebrations often include a seder (which means order) with ritual and prayers involving the "seven species", fruits of the earth mentioned in the bible and native to the land of Israel: pomegranates, dates, barley, wheat, figs, olives, and grapes.
The Mystical Origins of Tu B'Shevat
The original Tu B'Shevat seder was a Kabbalistic Jewish mystical practice in the 17th century. To mystics, the seder is a reparation of the Tree of Life and an expression of four different planes of existence that are believed to make up the world.
Lowest Level: Assiyah, action, represented by hard shelled fruits such as pomegranates.
Second Level: Yetzirah, formation, represented by fruits with soft outside and hard insides such as dates and olives.
Third Level: Briyah, creation, represented by soft fruits with no protection or pit such as grapes and figs.
Highest Level: Atzilut, godliness, has no fruit to represent, but is itself kindness and beauty.
(Hey, I said it was mystical... but isn't it interesting how creation is most vulnerable.)
However, for most modern Jews, the seder consists of drinking wine, eating fruit, praising G-d for creating these things, and reminding ourselves that we are stewards of the Earth.
Links to help you perform your own Tu B'shevet seder:
Modern Jewish Mom outlines a simple but meaningful ritual you can do with your family to honor the Earth.
- A spiritual but concise seder by the The Jewish Woman's Center of Pittsburgh.
- Babaganewz has a family seder for you to download.