Tu Bishvat History
Tu Bishvat (Hebrew: ט״ו בשבט, literally: the 15th of the Lunar Month of Shevat) is the New Year for trees (similar to Arbor Day). It falls in January or February each year, typically when almond blossom is seen in Israel. It is one of the four New Years in the Jewish Calendar.
According to the Jewish Law (Halachah), the 'New Year for trees' defines the beginning of the year for separating tithes for the poor and Levite. Tithes are 10% portions of a product, which are allocated as charity to either the Levites or the poor. Torah Law requires, that when the Holy Temple was standing, these tithes would be removed from the produce, before it was 'fit for consumption'. There was a seven year cycle, culminating in the Shmittah year, when fields lay fallow. After every seven seven year cycles, a Jubilee, 50th year was celebrated.
Tu Bishvat Facts & Quotes
- It is customary on Tu Bishvat to eat fruits of the Land of Israel, particularly those of the Biblical verse
A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey (Deuteronomy 8:8). The honey in this verse refers to date honey, according to tradition. Another custom is to plant trees in Israel.
- On Tu Bishvat, we remember that
Man is a Tree of the Field (Deuteronomy 20:19). It explains that we may not cut down trees during the siege of a city. The tree of the field is man's life to be used in and after the siege.
- The Code of Jewish Law states that on Tu B'Shevat fasting and eulogies are forbidden, and all penitential prayers are omitted. One of the most important authorities, the Magen Avraham, adds (131:16):
It is the custom to eat many different kinds of fruit. The Arizal suggested the eating of fifteen kinds of fruit (on the fifteenth of the month).
- In 2014 Tu Bishvat/Tu B'Shevat occurs on Thursday, January 16. It should be noted that all Jewish holidays begin at sundown one the eve before the Gregorian date specified for the holiday.
Tu Bishvat Top Events and Things to Do
- Make a Tu Bishvat Fruit Plate. Magen Avraham, a leading Jewish authority suggested the eating of fifteen kinds of fruit (on the fifteenth of the month).
- Say Blessings for new Fruit. Two blessings are said for new fruits (which have not yet been eaten that year), namely the standard blessing for fruits
..Who created the fruits of the tree and
..Who kept us alive, and sustained us and allowed us to reach this day.
- Attend a Tu Bishvat tisch which is popular in Hasidic communities. A Tisch is the Yiddish word for table. It refers to a festive meal with Holy Land fruits, wine, bread, fish and other foods.
- Sing a Tu Bishvat Song. There are many songs on YouTube about Tu Bishvat in both Hebrew and English.
Tu Bishvat References and Related Sites
Robert Goodman, Teaching Jewish Holidays: History, Values, And Activities
, A.R.E. Publishing, 1997