Tu B’Shevat

Tu B’Shevat, the 15th day of the Jewish month of Shevat, is a holiday also known as the New Year for Trees.  “Tu” is not a word, but rather the numerical equivalent for 15 in Hebrew.

Tu B’Shevat is not mentioned in the Bible, but it does highlight a Biblical principle.  In Leviticus 19:23-25, G-d instructed the Children of Israel saying, “And when ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, then ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised:  three years shall it be as uncircumcised unto you:  it shall not be eaten of.  But in the fourth year, all the fruit thereof shall be holy to praise the L-rd.  And in the fifth year shall ye eat of the fruit thereof, that it may yield unto you the increase thereof:  I am the L-rd your G-d.”

It is common in Israel during this holiday to plant trees and also to eat from the seven Species (shivat haminim) described in the Bible as being abundant in the land of Israel.  These species are:  wheat, barley, grapes (vines) figs, pomegranates, olives and dates (honey).  See Deut. 8:8).

We can also take from this a spiritual implication.  First the new (uncircumcised) trees have fruit which is considered unworthy to present to HaShem.  In the fourth year, it is holy to praise the L-rd.  Let us confess our sins and put behind us our evili inclinations, so that we may offer up pure Praise until G-d.  

Shavuah Tov!  (Have a good week!)

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