The New Year for Trees
Tu B’Shevat, the 15th of Shevat on the Jewish calendar is the day that marks the beginning of a “New Year for Trees.” This is the season in which the earliest-blooming trees in the Land of Israel emerge from their winter sleep and begin a new fruit-bearing cycle.Tu Bishvat is considered to be a Jewish equivalent of Arbor Day. Ecological organizations in Israel and the diaspora have adopted it to further environmental awareness programs. On Israeli kibbutzim, Tu Bishvat is celebrated as an agricultural holiday.
Legally, the “New Year for Trees” relates to the various tithes that are separated from produce grown in the Holy Land. These tithes differ from year to year in the seven-year Shemittah cycle; the point at which a budding fruit is considered to belong to the next year of the cycle is the 15th of Shevat.
We mark the day of Tu B’Shevat by eating fruit, particularly from the kinds that are singled out by the Torah in its praise of the bounty of the Holy Land: grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. On this day we remember that “man is a tree of the field” (Deuteronomy 20:19*) and reflect on the lessons we can derive from our botanical analogue
While there is no way I'm planting a tree here today (It is suppose to be -16F.), I do have 3 being planted in Israel. The Jewish National Fund will plant them for you. This year the trees will be planted on Mount Carmel to replenish the area ravished by the wildfire. You can contribute to this cause here or to the Fire Fighting Emergency Campaign.
JNF is the U.S. fundraising arm for of Friends of Israel Firefighters. You can provide firefighters with much-needed equipment and replacing supplies that were depleted during the fight. Your dollars will help purchase helmets, hoses, fire extinguishing chemicals and thermal cameras, among other emergency equipment. Donate here.
Although a very minor holiday, it does remind us of the bounty that G-d provides us.
And of course Dry Bones will have the last word:
* Deuteronomy 20:19
When thou shalt besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof by wielding an axe against them; for thou mayest eat of them, but thou shalt not cut them down; for is the tree of the field man, that it should be besieged of thee?