Tu B’Shevat Shalom ט”ו בשבט שלום
A Peaceful Sabbath – A Peaceful Planting
“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keeps thee will not slumber. Behold, he that keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.” Psalms 121:1-8
Today is Tu Bishvat, and in Israel it is the day that trees come of age according to Jewish law. It is the ‘birthday for trees’ that bear fruit or nuts and many Jewish people, particularly in Israel and on kibbutzim, plant trees on this special day.
According to some readings of Jewish law, fruit that ripens in the first three years that a tree gives fruit is considered orlah. This means that it is not kosher and thus not acceptable for Jewish people to eat. Tu B’Shevat marks the “new year” or “birthday” of trees. Fruit that ripens in the third year on or after the 15th day of the month of Shevat is kosher. Traditionally, the fruit that ripened in the fourth year was taken to the temple as a tithe (form of taxation). This is now paid symbolically using coins.
Work is not prohibited, and there are no required festive meals, and no special prayers added to the regular prayer services. Nevertheless, the day is invested with a festive sense. Tachanun is not said. Eulogies are not delivered for the dead, and if it falls on Shabbat, Av Harachamim is not said (since Av Harachamim recalls the souls of the dead.) It is customary to eat a new fruit from the Land of Israel of which one had not yet partaken the present year, so that the “bracha” or “blessing” of SheHecheyanu may be said.
The reason for the festive mood of the Rosh Hashanah of trees is that the 15th of Shevat recalls the praise of the Land of Israel, for on this day the strength of the soil of the land is renewed. With reference to the fruits of the trees and the produce of the soil, the Torah praises the Land of Israel: “A land of wheat and barley and vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey”
The Torah has compared Man to a tree of the field; hence this day also recalls the Divine judgment upon man. For such is the character of the people of Israel, that they rejoice on a day of judgment. Whatever the decision is, they know it lets all see that “there is a law and that there is a Judge.” The Torah is the law, and God is the Judge.
It is not a public holiday but some Jewish organizations may be closed or offer a limited service to allow for festivities to occur on this day. Some Jewish people began to hold a symbolic sedar (meal) on Tu B’Shevat after 1600 CE. This consisted of different types of fruit and nuts, each of which had a specific spiritual meaning. This custom is still alive so many Jewish people make a special effort to eat a meal consisting of dried fruit and nuts accompanied by red wine or grape juice. They often share this meal with family members and close friends.
What is special about this Shabbat and Tu B’Shevat? Tu B’Shevat has been wed to this Sabbath Day. They are one blessed day this year and the timing is showing God’s hand at work for Israel in the midst of a sea of defeated enemies.
Tu B’Shevat recalls the Divine judgment upon man, reminding all that there is a law and that there is a Judge. The Torah is the law, and your God is the Judge. And the God of Israel is showing His uplifting hand upon you for all the world to see right now.
Through spiritual enactment of God, the strength of the soil of the land is renewed on this day. And the strength of you Israel is in the covenant of God and the land he granted to you. A land eternally yours and not to be divided. There is no two-state solution with a God that has decreed there is only one land of Israel.
Tachanun is not said this Sabbath, for there is no need for supplications, as His judgement has been given. He is strengthening you, through planting you even more firmly in your Covenant land. Build your settlements when, where and as your heart desires.
Remember Israel that Av Harachamim and eulogies for the dead are not to be given on this day. Forget all dread of the past. This day for you is only about life. God is speaking to you that your life is blessed, your strength renewed through taking back His land. And it all is in his hands and there is nothing special that you have to do on this wedded day Israel. Nothing to do but praise Him.
The “blessing” of SheHecheyanu was introduced to encourage all Jews to offer thanks for the new and unusual experiences of God in your lives. Israel, you will still be here when the United Nations of Hell are eternally gone.
Pray for President Trump, that God will bless America through His Administration continually blessing you.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הַעוֹלָם שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמַן הַזֶּה
So, be at rest in your planting Israel, let your roots spread wide and deeply into your soil.
Shabbat Shalom – Tu B’Shevat Shalom – Shabbat Shalom