Tu Bishvat

Meaning and celebration of the Feast of Tu Bish’vat

 טו בשבט 

 The love of Israel for his land and the rooting in the Torah! 

Tu Bish’vat, טו בשבט, is the abreviation for the Hebrew date of the 15th of the month, Sh’vat. The vav ו  has the value of six (6) and the tet ט nine (9) making the total of the two l5. 

It is, according to Jewish tradition, the New Year of the trees and the rejoicing celebration for G-d’s wonderful creation. 

Mishna Rosh Hashanah I, 1:

« There are four New Year dates. The first of Nisan is the New Year of the kings and of the pilgrimage feasts. The first of Elul is the New Year of the tithing for the cattle(…) The first of Tishri, the New Year for the years, the shmita and the Jubilee, for the harvest and the vegetables.(…) The 15 of Sh’vat , the New Year for the trees. »

This feast is rooted in the Torah with many customs added since the exile of the Jewish people, far from their land. 

Tu Bish’vat was also the date for the counting of the years, for the planting of the trees and the eating of the fruits:  

 “‘When you enter the land and plant various kinds of fruit trees, you are to regard its fruit as forbidden––for three years it will be forbidden to you and not eaten. In the fourth year all its fruit will be holy, for praising ADONAI. But in the fifth year you may eat its fruit, so that it will produce even more for you; I am ADONAI your God. Leviticus 19:23-25   

Since the Jews cannot bring the offering of the First Fruits, it has become a tradition on that day, to offer a sacrifice of praise to the Creator of the universe:  

Through him, therefore, let us offer God a sacrifice of praise continually. For this is the natural product of lips that acknowledge his name. Hebrews 13:15  

This time was a time for tithing and thus a time for giving to the poor. 

The Talmud teaches us that the custom was to plant a cedar tree for a boy’s birth and a cypress tree for a girl’s. The children took care of their respective trees until the time of their wedding(s), when both of the trees were then used for building the chuppa (wedding canopy).

The tree is also the symbol for the birth of the State of Israel. Many trees were planted in the land fulfilling the prophecies: 

 “‘When you enter the land and plant various kinds of fruit trees, Leviticus 19:23  

Since the 16th century, we celebrate a Tu Bish’vat Seder , as well as the one for Pesach, where we drink four cups of wine. 

Different types of fruits are eaten, especially the seven species of the Land of Israel: 

  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Grape
  • Fig
  • Pomegranate
  • Date or honey
  • Olive  

During this Seder, we explain why we celebrate this feast and the guests are invited to ask questions.

Apart from the agricultural aspect, this Feast speaks of the Redemption and Torah.

There were two trees in the Gan Eden (paradise), the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life. By eating the forbidden fruit, man lost his place and rank in the earth. 

We need to be fed by the fruits of the Torah which is the Tree of Life: 

She is a tree of life to those who grasp her; whoever holds fast to her will be made happy. Proverbs 3:18

By being rooted in the Word we can bear fruit and take our rank back in G-d’s plan: 

He will be like a tree planted near water; it spreads out its roots by the river; it does not notice when heat comes; and its foliage is luxuriant; it is not anxious in a year of drought but keeps on yielding fruit. Jeremiah 17:8

This Tree of Life, this Torah, alludes to the Germ, tzemach, to the Machia’ch Who will bring back the exiled of His people and establish Peace on earth: 

There is coming a man whose name is Tzemach (Sprout) צמח. He will sprout up from his place and rebuild the temple of ADONAI. Zachariah 6:12 

Since the renewed covenant, made with the sacrifice of Yeshua, all those who have acknowledged Him as their Lord have been grafted into the olive tree, the symbol of Yisra-El. Yisra-El also draws his root from the Tree of Life and the Living Torah: Yeshua Ha Mashia’ch 

It is only by being grafted into this olive tree that is Yisra-El and who is “the people of Isra’el” (they were made God’s children; the Sh’khinah has been with them; the covenants are theirs, likewise the giving of the Torah, the Temple service and the promises; the Patriarchs are theirs; and from them, as far as his physical descent is concerned, came the Messiah, who is over all (Romans 9:4-5)), that we will be able to receive the full blessing and the richness of this root that sustains us and makes us grow in His knowledge: 

But if some of the branches were broken off, and you – a wild olive – were grafted in among them and have become equal sharers in the rich root of the olive tree…Romans 11:17  

May it be our prayer in this day of Tu Bish’vat, that Yisra-El, the Prince of G-d be grafted again and draw from this Tree of Life so that they might fill the earth with fruit and bring us this ‘resurrection from the dead”: 

The time is coming when Ya‘akov will take root; Isra’el will bud and flower and fill the whole world with a harvest.

For if their casting Yeshua aside means reconciliation for the world, what will their accepting him mean? It will be life from the dead! Isaiah 27:6 Romans 11:15   

Celebration of the feast:   

Decorate a nice table with branches and flowers

Red and white wine or grape juice

Fruit trays

Seeds for planting: we usually plant parsley for the coming Pesach Seder. 

You can visit this website for an in-depth description on how to celebrate: 

http://www.aish.com/holidays/tu_bshvat/last/seder2.htm

 

We wish you a Happy Tu Bish’vat Feast! May you be grafted and strongly rooted in Him! 

Chag Sameach   Happy festival!

חג שמח 

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