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Tu’ B’Shvat, Festival of the Trees

Updated: Apr 27, 2021

It’s Tu’ B’Shvat, Festival of the Trees

 It’s Tu’ B’Shvat, Chag L’ilanot, festival of the trees.


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picking olives in Jerusalem


Tu B’shvat, literally means, 15th of the Hebrew month of Shvat. It is cited in the Mishna, Tractate Rosh Hashana, “There are 4 Roshei Hashana, (heads of the year); on the first day of the month of Shvat according to the school of Shamai. According to the school of Hillel, it is on the 15th of the month of Shvat.

Throughout the Talmud, the opinion usually goes according the school of Hillel and so to with the ruling of Tu B’shvat. Rosh Hashana, in Jewish thought is usually associated with the solemn Days of Awe: reflection and judgment. This association is strengthened by the very next Mishna that speaks of 4 periods of judgment of the year that includes a time of judgment for the fruits of the trees, (festival of weeks, Shavuot).

The reasoning of Tu B’Shvat as given in the Talmud has to do with keeping track of the time with regards to planting and keeping inventory about agricultural laws that pertain to tithing of fruits for the priests, (Cohanim) and the poor.

Over the years, during the Diaspora when the agricultural culture of the Jews weakened, the ideas of Tu’ Bshvat remained theoretical. Teachings, customs and even mystical teachings and practices evolved.


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jamie_shear_tree_tu-bshvat

Now that the Jewish People has returned to the Land after 2000 years, Tu’ B’ Shvat further evolved in meaning. To the broad and diverse population in Israel today, Tu B’ Shvat means different things; they are all, however, wonderful. The agricultural meaning is there, although the original laws cannot be observed because we do not have the functioning priesthood without a Temple. However, it symbolizes agriculture in its essence and symbolizes GREEN, environment and all the good things that we must be mindful of today. It is a time to hike, to plant, to garden. To some, it still signifies the mystical. It is a time to take our ancient, past customs throughout time and place, be in the present and think of the future.


pomogranit