Happy Birthday, Dear Trees >><< This Coming Sunday Evening Is Tu B'Shevat >><< New Year's Day Of The Trees
This poster is in honor of Tu B'Shevat, which is the New Year of the trees. It is the fifteenth day of the Lunar month of Shvat. It is Israel's Arbor Day.
This year, 2019, Tu BiShvat will begin at sundown on the evening of Sunday, January 20 which is the 15th of Sh'vat, 5779, (Hebrew: ט״ו בשבט ) in the Hebrew Calendar.
And it will end after sundown on the evening of
Monday, January 21
I love trees, and this holiday happily resonates with me...
"Tu B'Shevat" We celebrate with the fruit of the trees, placing particular emphasis on the seven types of produce by which the Torah praises the Land of israel. The seven species ae mentioned in The Torah in Duteronomy 8:8 - A land of wheat, barley, of grapevines, figs, and pomegranates, a land of olives and honey from dates.
Why is the birthday of the trees important?
It's because God said we may not eat the fruit of a tree for the first three years of its life after planting. The produce of the fourth year is dedicated to HaShem and is given to the Temple in Jerusalem. The fruit of the fifth year may be eaten and tithed and gleanings reserved for the poor, of course.
I've taken the following from
A more complete explanation and description are at:
"Which brings us to Tu B'shevat, the 15th of Shevat, (with Rabbi Shammai dissenting and arguing the correct day is the 1st of Shevat.) ...
Leviticus,chapter 19, lines 23-25:
When you enter the land and plant any kind of fruit tree, regard its fruit as forbidden. For three years you are to consider it forbidden; it must not be eaten. In the fourth year all its fruit will be holy, an offering of praise to the Lord. But in the fifth year you may eat its fruit. In this way your harvest will be increased. I am the Lord your God.
[My Note: Trees grown and planted outside of Israel are exempted from the fourth year gift to The Temple requirement, so we may eat the fruit of such trees after three years instead of after four years.]
So how did the ancient Hebrews calculate the age of their trees to determine when the tree was four years old and they had to bring all the fruit to the Temple, and when the tree was five years old and they could finally eat all the fruit? The answer - the number of years since planting that the tree has passed through the 15th of Shevat. If the farmer planted a fruit tree on the 14th of Shevat, than the tree was considered one year old the very next day, but if the farmer planted a tree on the 15th of Shevat, the farmer would have to wait an entire year before the tree became a year old, and wait the full five years before eating the fruit. According to Rabbi Hillel, Israel's rainy season had largely passed by the 15th of Shevat, while Rabbi Shammai argued that the rainy season starts to end by the first of Shevat. Both rabbis, of course, agreed that trees grow from rain water - particularly in Israel, where there are few rivers and streams.
Somehow, unlike the first of Elul and the first of Nisan, this new year did not completely fall by the wayside after the Romans destroyed the Temple in the year 70. While this minor holiday was largely discarded by Ashkenazi Jews - those Jews living in the colder climes of northern and eastern Europe (see Jeremiah 51:27 - Ashkenaz being the Biblical name for Germany),
Sephardic Jews, living in Spain and elsewhere in the warmer climes along the Mediterranean and Middle East (see Obadiah 1:20, Sepharad came to be seen as a reference to Spain), kept the holiday alive. In Germany and Poland and Russia, before the days of modern rapid transportation, Jews and non-Jews could eat only dried or preserved fruit in the winter, but in Spain, Italy, North Africa, Babylon, and Persia, the rainy winters are the heart of the growing season, and fresh fruit was abundant. Sephardic Jews began the annual custom of the Tu B'Shevat sedar, where families gathered around the table and sampled all the fresh fruits available in the markets.
In the late 19th and early 20th century, the early Zionists revived Tu B'Shevat, planting trees in what was then the largely deforested section of the Turkish Empire known as Palestine. This Thursday and every Tu B'Shevat, Israeli school children will be sent on field trips to plant trees.
In Israel and in the United States and around the world, Jewish environmentalists dedicate this day to increase environmental awareness and to urge action to halt pollution, the destruction of our forests, chemicals contaminating our water (think West Virginia) and climate change. In the southern parts of the United States, the members of some synagogues and other Jewish organizations will even be planting trees!
So Happy Tu B'Shevat!