Tu Bishvat – New Year for plants

This Shabbat (15 Shvat – 30 January2010) when we read the Portion of the Torah called Beshalach is also this year Tu Bishvat – The New year for plants and trees. We are told in the Talmud right at the beginning of the tractate of Rosh Hashanna that there are four New Years. One for people, one for Kings, one for cattle and one for plants and trees.

The custom on Tu Bishvat is to eat fruits from the seven species for which the Land of Israel is praised: …a land of wheat and barley and (grape) vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and (date) honey (Deut. 8:8).

There also is a tradition that is becoming popular again in recent years to have a Tu Bishvat Seder. The origin of this is Kabbalistic.

One also tries on Tu Bishvat to eat a fruit that one hasn’t eaten in this season and to say the blessing for a new fruit over it along with its regular blessing.

What is the idea behind all of this? Again as with many things it is to realise where all the goodness comes from. That G_d provides us with everything that we need from nature.

What is nature? We take for granted that the trees with all their abundance of fruits, the plants with all their colours shining forth and everything else we see our our daily travels is just there. Nature in itself is a miracle. Since when does the pip of an apple when put in the ground become a massive tree etc. It is the Hand of G-d. Nature is G_d
playing his role in our everyday life. We just have to be tuned in to realise it when we see it.

Therefore when you partake of a fruit on this Tu Bishvat remember the part that nature takes and that it is not just a background role in our everyday trundle through our lives.

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