Tu BiShvat (Hebrew for the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shvat) is the new year of the trees.
While we have been having a relatively warm winter in the United States, it cannot compare to what winter is like in Israel. It is the rainy season there, the time of year that Israel greens up, with cooler temperatures and rain (which feels like a miracle every time I experience it) in between
With great excitement, tinged with a touch of trepidation, I moved to Israel in the summer of 1996 to begin my first year of rabbinical school at Hebrew Union College.
In a few weeks we will be celebrating Tu BiSh’vat. There are numerous approaches you could take in planning your celebration.
This year, we celebrate the beginning of the month of Adar between “Shabbat Shekalim” and the Shabbat when we read the Torah portion “Truma” (donation). Shabbat Shekalim reminds us that each and every one of us has an equal share in the amazing challenge that is the State of Israel.
It is life we want, no more and no less than that, our own life feeding on our own vital sources, in the fields and under the skies of our homeland, a life based on our own physical and mental labors; we want vital energy and spiritual richness from this living source.
By Joshua Weinberg
“And when you come into the Land, and have planted all manner of food bearing trees… (Lev. 19:23) The Holy one Blessed be he said to the people Israel: Even though you have found [the land] full of plenty, you shall not say: We shall sit and not plant, rather proceed with caution in your planting… For as you have entered and found the fruits of others’ labor, you so shall plant for your children. (Midrash Tanhuma)
If you’re like me, then you may remember that pivotal moment of Jewish education when you received your very own Jewish National Fund (JNF) certificate for a tree planted in Israel. Whether it was for a birth, birthday, bar/bat mitzvah, or in memory of a loved one, a tree was planted in Israel to mark the occasion. The message was clear: with every passing milestone we want to connect Jews to the Land of Israel and to the Zionist enterprise. All of us who were the fortunate recipients of such trees knew in the recesses of our mind that somewhere in that strip of land, in some forest, was our tree, our little piece of Israel. As the certificates read, the JNF wished us the following: “We wish you the fortune of seeing it grow with much pleasure and ease.”