What is Tu Bi’Shvat? It’s “New Year for the Trees.”. Judaism is a cosmic religion that is tied not only to the moon cycle, but also to earth. Our holidays are universal. They can and should be celebrated by any human being, regardless of faith tradition. Tu Bi’Shvat, which is coming soon, is a perfect example of one of our universal earthly holidays. It is for celebrating and appreciating trees, and experiencing personal and spiritual growth. Human beings are compared to trees as far back as the Torah itself. It is mentioned in Deuteronomy 20:19.
Every year it is celebrated on the 15th of Shevat on the Jewish calendar, which corresponds to Monday, February 10, 2020 on the Gregorian calendar– the dead of winter. It may seem surprising that a holiday for trees takes place in winter, but It’s after the rainy season in Israel, when the trees begin to show signs of coming back to life– signifying that spring is on the way. In celebration of this holiday, people get outside to thank G-d for the trees and the perfect, eternal goodness of fruit. Planting trees is a common activity, and eating specific fruits, which grow on trees, such as: pomegranates, olives, dates, figs and grapes is also customary. If you would like to try eating these fruits and saying the Hebrew prayer thanking G-d for them, here’s the prayer:
Ba-ruch atah Ado-nai, Elo-hei-nu me-lech ha-olam, borei pri ha-etz.
Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the tree.
Pomegranates were said to adorn the robes of the high priests in biblical times. They signified fruitfulness and righteousness. I have made several pieces that depict the pomegranate (my grandmother had a tree)– here’s just a few:
It is said that the Torah itself is a “Tree of Life.” Judaism revels in the symbology of the tree– in the cycle of life — the seed (with soil and water) brings to life the tree, the tree bears fruit, the fruit provides the seeds, and then the cycle of life continues. Some of my favorite art offerings depict the tree of life:
Shin Tree of Life Necklace
The 7 branches of this Tree of Life jewelry can also represent the 7 Divine emotional Sefirot (Chesed, Gevurah, Tiferet, Netzach, Hod, Yesod and Malchut), and the corresponding 7 emotional midot of the soul.
Tu Bi’Shvat is one of my favorite Jewish holidays. I love it because planting trees is one of the best ways of combating the detrimental effects we human beings and our industries have on the environment. In order to help the local environment in which I live, and celebrate Tu Bi’Shvat I will donate 20% to Friends of the Urban Forest from any online purchase on my website between now and February 10th. Just put “For the Trees” in the memo line of your order.
I hope we can all find the time to get outside and give thanks for our precious earth. Let me know if you are able to do so. I would love to hear your Tu B’Shvat experience.
Sending Much Love to you and all the Trees!