Tu BiShevat Seder

The New Year For The Trees

The origins of Tu B’Shevat go back to the Torah,, “When you enter the land and plant any tree, you shall regard its fruit as forbidden. Three years it shall be forbidden for you, not to be eaten. The fourth year all of its fruits shall be set aside for jubilation before the Lord, and only in the fifth year may use the fruit.” Leviticus 19:23-25

In order to harvest fruit in the fourth year, one needed a way to keep track of the age of trees,Tu B’Shevat, the fifteenth of Shevat, became the norm for determining the age of a tree, and is called the “new year for the trees.” In the 16th century, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, a mystic and kabbalist of Safed, introduced a Tu B’Shevat seder modeled after Passover seder.

In Israel today, Jews celebrate Tu B’Shevat by planting trees and holding festivals in agricultural areas. They eat a new fruit of the year or one of the seven of the fruits of Israel, “a land of wheat and barley, of vines, figs, and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey.” Deuteronomy 8:8.

Etz Hayim Synagogue will host its popular, annual Tu B’Shevat seder on Friday, January 17 at 7:15 PM. Tu B’Shevat is known as the New Year for Trees.

At the seder, we will sample foods grown in Israel. We will appreciate the bounty we so often take for granted, and develop a good and generous eye for the world around us. Participants drink wine or grape juice and eat a variety of fruits, nuts, and food made from wheat and barley.

Preparing the Tu B’Shevat seder is a lot of fun, and children love to help. Trees are essential to life in Israel, their importance celebrated throughout time.