Have you ever wished a tree Happy New Year?
The 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat will give you the chance. This day is known as Tu B'Shevat, the New Year for Trees. In 2012 this day falls on February 8th.
The Torah states in Leviticus 19:23-25 that fruit from trees may not be eaten during the first three years; the fourth year's fruit is for G-d, and after that, you can eat the fruit. Each tree is considered to have aged one year as of Tu B'Shevat no matter when during the year the tree was planted. The New Year for Trees tells us when it is okay to eat G-d's gift from the tree. In Biblical times this was also important to know because of the giving of tithes of the first fruits. The Israelites needed to know if a tree's fruit should be counted for tithes as written in Deuteronomy 14:28-29.
Why isn't the New Year for Trees celebrated at the same time as the Jewish New Year, Rosh HaShannah?
This has to do with the rainy season in Israel, which commences during late autumn. It can take months for enough rain to saturate the earth and nurture the trees so theycan produce fruit. Tu B'Shevat occurs at the time in the year when a tree is ready to produce that year's first fruits.
After working in the soil of the Holy Land planting trees, families often enjoy a snack of fruits and nuts. In particular, foods that are mentioned in the Bible and come from trees are eaten during this holiday: dates, figs, pomegranates, olives, and almonds.
How can this day reflect on my own spiritual path?
So where ever you are in the world on this day, think of what you can do to nurture G-d's Earth as well as your relationship with Him... and have some delicious fruit!
To Plant a Tree click here.
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