When you come to the land and you plant any tree, you shall treat its fruit as forbidden;
for three years it will be forbidden and not eaten.
In the fourth year, all of its fruit shall be sanctified to praise the L-RD.
In the fifth year, you may eat its fruit. -Leviticus 19:23-25
In Judaism there are four new years...
the first of Shevat is the new year for trees according to the ruling of Beit Shammai;
Beit Hillel, however, places it on the fifteenth of that month. -Mishnah Rosh Hashanah 1:1
In the 16th century, kabbalists, developed a seder ritual
conceptually similar to the Pesach (Passover) seder,
focused on the spiritual significance of fruits and of the shivat haminim.
This custom spread primarily in Sephardic communities,
but in recent years it has been getting more attention among Ashkenazim.
The Galveston Jewish Community's Tu B'Shevat 5776 Seder at Congregation Beth Jacob
Sunday, January 24, 2016 at 6PM Adults: $10 Children: No Charge
Make Your Reservations Today as Space is Limited
FIFTEENTH OF SH'V AT
The day of fasting on the tenth of Tevet commemorates the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar ( 586ac.E). Reference to it and to other fast days can be found in Zechariah, who prophesied that all of these days of mourning would some day be converted into times of rejoicing ( Zech. 8: 19). It has served as a cutoff date for the merrymaking that accompanies the Hanukkah session. The fast begins with dawn and ends at nightfall. In the ynagogue, S'lihot are offered, confession is spoken, and in Torah reading we recite God's Thirteen Attributes of mercy ( Exod. 32: 11-14; 34:1-10). There is no work prohibition. Reform Judaism does not observe the day.
The Fifteenth of Sh'vat One month later, the "New Year's Day of Trees" is celebrated. In Egypt, it was forbidden to injure any fruit trees because the god Osiris dwelt in them. We find a similar prohibition in Torah, which finds it necessary to reject any belief in a tree's human, much less divine, character, holding instead that a tree sustains life and IS to be preserved even in warfare.
Are the trees of the field human, to withdraw before you under siege? [Deut. 20: 19-20] In joy, the awakening of the trees' life is observed. The fifteenth of Sh'vat is a pure festival of nature; it has no historical meaning. Once important, the feast is of minor significance today. The Torah is not read in public. We are, however, bidden to partake of the fruit with which the land of Israel is especially blessed, for it is A land of wheat and barley, of vines, figs, and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and [date-] honey. [Deut. 8:8] In Israel the children go out to plant saplings, and in this country the custom has developed for children to plant trees indigenous to Israel in the garden of the synagogue. The festival thus comes to reveal the significance of the restoration of Israel as a sovereign nation. Tu B'Shvat (the Hebrew letters Tet and Vav have the numerical value of 15, hence the name) was once fiscally important (Rosh Hashanah 1: 1). It was the cutoff date for determining the year when the fruit of the tree was to be tithed. If planted before this date, its tithe had to apply to the previous year; if planted afterward, its tithe was applied to the following year. Beyond that, the day was observed in joy as a stepping-stone to spring. --The Complete Book of Jewish Observance, Rabbi Leo Trepp
Galveston Jewish Community comes together for the
15 Shevat 5775 - February 4, 2015) Tu B'Shevat Seder.