The first ever published seder for Tu biShvat — Pri Ets Hadar (The Fruit of the Majestic Tree) — can be found in a kabbalistic text, first published as a pamphlet in Venice in 1728. (See Friedberg, Beyt ‘Eqed Sefarim, vol. 3, p.851, no.777.) Written by an unknown author, Pri Ets Hadar was included in the Sefer Ḥemdat Yamim by R’ Yisrael Yakov Ben Yom Tov Algazi (1680-1756) (the Rosh Yeshiva of Beit El in Yerushalayim).
(1) Although the 15th of Shevat occurs during the “days of the Shovavim,” it is not a fast day, since it is the New Year’s Day for the fruit of the tree. Through the tikkun that is performed on this day with fruit, the sefirah,”Tsaddik, Life of the Worlds,” is aroused. This mystery is mentioned in the Zohar, Bereshit, “on the third day, the earth made fruit from the potency of that [supernal] Tsaddik. As it is written, 'And God said, let the earth bring forth… fruit trees that produce fruit…' 'Fruit trees' refers to 'the tree of the knowledge of good and evil' that bears fruit. ‘That produce fruit‘ alludes to Tsaddik, the foundation of the world….”
(2) It is a good custom for the faithful to eat many fruits on this day and to celebrate them with words of praise, just as I have instructed my companions.
(ט) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹקִ֗ים יִקָּו֨וּ הַמַּ֜יִם מִתַּ֤חַת הַשָּׁמַ֙יִם֙ אֶל־מָק֣וֹם אֶחָ֔ד וְתֵרָאֶ֖ה הַיַּבָּשָׁ֑ה וַֽיְהִי־כֵֽן׃ (י) וַיִּקְרָ֨א אֱלֹקִ֤ים ׀ לַיַּבָּשָׁה֙ אֶ֔רֶץ וּלְמִקְוֵ֥ה הַמַּ֖יִם קָרָ֣א יַמִּ֑ים וַיַּ֥רְא אֱלֹקִ֖ים כִּי־טֽוֹב׃ (יא) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹקִ֗ים תַּֽדְשֵׁ֤א הָאָ֙רֶץ֙ דֶּ֔שֶׁא עֵ֚שֶׂב מַזְרִ֣יעַ זֶ֔רַע עֵ֣ץ פְּרִ֞י עֹ֤שֶׂה פְּרִי֙ לְמִינ֔וֹ אֲשֶׁ֥ר זַרְעוֹ־ב֖וֹ עַל־הָאָ֑רֶץ וַֽיְהִי־כֵֽן׃ (יב) וַתּוֹצֵ֨א הָאָ֜רֶץ דֶּ֠שֶׁא עֵ֣שֶׂב מַזְרִ֤יעַ זֶ֙רַע֙ לְמִינֵ֔הוּ וְעֵ֧ץ עֹֽשֶׂה־פְּרִ֛י אֲשֶׁ֥ר זַרְעוֹ־ב֖וֹ לְמִינֵ֑הוּ וַיַּ֥רְא אֱלֹקִ֖ים כִּי־טֽוֹב׃ (יג) וַֽיְהִי־עֶ֥רֶב וַֽיְהִי־בֹ֖קֶר י֥וֹם שְׁלִישִֽׁי׃ (פ)
(9) God said, “Let the water below the sky be gathered into one area, that the dry land may appear.” And it was so. (10) God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering of waters He called Seas. And God saw that this was good. (11) And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation: seed-bearing plants, fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. (12) The earth brought forth vegetation: seed-bearing plants of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that this was good. (13) And there was evening and there was morning, a third day.
(ו) וִיהִי רָצוֹן מִלְפָנֶיךָ יָ אֱלֹ-ינוּ וֵאלֹ-י אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, שֶׁבְּכֹחַ סְגוּלַּת אֲכִילַת הַפֵּירוֹת שֶׁנֹּאכַל וּנְבָרֵךְ עֲלֵיהֶן עַתָּה וַאֲשֶׁר נֶהֱגֶה בְּסוֹד שׁוֹרְשֵהֶן יִתְעוֹרְרוּ שְׂרָפֵיהֶן הָעֶלְיוֹנִים אֲשֶר הֵמָּה תְּלוּיִים בָּם לְהַשְׁפִּיעַ עֲלֵיהֶן שֶׁפַע רָצוֹן בְּרָכָה וּנְדָבָה, וְגַם הַמְּמוּנִּים וְהַמֻּשְּטָרִים עֲלֵיהֶן יִתְמַלְּאוּ מֵעוֹז שֶׁפַע הדרן לָשׁוּב שֵׁנִית לְהַגְדִּילָם וּלְהַצְמִיחָם מֵרֵאשִׁית הַשָּׁנָה וְעַד אַחֲרִית הַשָּׁנָה לְטוֹבָה וְלִבְרָכָה לְחַיִּים טוֹבִים וּלְשָׁלוֹם. (ז) וְקיֵּים לָנוּ אֶת הַדָּבָר שֶהִבְטַחְתָּנוּ עַל יְדֵי מַלְאָכִי חוֹזָךְ וְגָעֲרְתִּי לָכֶם בָּאוֹכֵל וְלֹא יַשְׁחִית לָכֶם אֶת פְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה וְלֺא תְשַׁכֵּל לָכֶם הַגֶּפֶן בַּשַׂדֶה אָמַר ה' צְבָאוֹת הַשְׁקִיפָה מִמְּעוֹן קָדְשְׁךָ מִן הַשָׁמַיִם וּבָרֵךְ עָלֵינוּ אֶת הַשָׁנָה הַזֹּאת לְטוֹבָה וְלִבְרָכָה (ח) תְשִׁיתֵהוּ בְרָכוֹת לָעַד תְּחַדֵּהוּ בְשִׂמְחָה אֶת פָּנֶיךָ וְנָתְנָה הָאָרֶץ יְבוּלָהּ וְעֵץ הַשָׂדֶה יִתֵּן פִּרְיוֹ (ט) וְעֲלֵיהֶם תָּבֹא בִּרְכַּת טוֹב לְהִתְבָּרֵךְ פֵּירוֹתֶיהָ בְּמֵעֵינוּ אֶחָד הַמַּרְבֶּה וְאֶחָד הַמַּמְעִיט גַּם בְּרָכוֹת יַעְטֶה בִבְרִיאוּת הַגּוּף שָם יְצַוֶּה ה׳ אֶת הַבְּרָכָה חַיִּים עַד הָעוֹלָם (י) וְעוֹז הֲדַר הַבְּרָכוֹת בַּאֲכִילַת הַפֵּירוֹת יִהְיוּ לִמְאוֹרוֹת בְמַעְיַין הַבְּרָכוֹת צַדִּיק חַי הָעוֹלָמִים וְנִרְאֲתָה הַקֶשֶׁת שָׂשׂ וּמִתְפָּאֵר בְּגוָֹונִים שֶׁלּוֹ וּמִשָּׂם יוּשְׁפַּע עָלֵינוּ שֶׁפַע רָצוֹן וְרַחֲמִים לִמְחוֹל וְלִסְלֹחַ מֵעֲוֹנוֹתֵינוּ וְאַשְׁמָתֵנוּ אֲשֶׁר נוֹאַלְנוּ וַאֲשֶר חָטָאנוּ. וְהָיִינוּ מַרְשִׁיעֵי בְרִית וּפגַמְנוּ בִפְרִי צַדִּי״ק חַי הַעוֹלמָיִם וּמַנַעְנוּ רְבִיבֵי הַשְׁפָּעֲתוֹ וְנִשְׁחָתוּ כָּל מְקוֹרוֹת וְיָשׁוּב עַתָּה הַכּל לְאֵיתָנוֹ הָרִאשׁוֹן וְתֵשֵׁב בְּאֵיתָן קַשְׁתּוֹ כִּי אַתָּה תְּבָרֵךְ צַדִּיק ה׳ כַּצִנָּה רָצוֹן תַּעְטְרֵהוּ׃ (יא) וְכָל הַנִּצוֹצוֹת שֶׁנִּתְפַּזְּרוּ עַל יָדֵינוּ אוֹ עַל יְדֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ וּבְעָוֹן אָדָם הָרִאשׁוֹן אֲשֶר חָטָא בְפֵירוֹת הָאִילָן עַתָּה יָשׁוּבוּ לְהִתְכַּלֵּל בְּעוֹז הֲדַר עֵץ הַחַיִים וְיוּסַר מֵהֶם כָּל רַע בְּכֹחַ שִׁמְךָ הַגָּדוֹל הַיוֹצֵא מִפָּסוּק חַיִל בָּלַע וַיְקִיאֶנּוּ (יב) וְיָשוּב הַכֹּל לְאֵיתָנוֹ הָרִאשׁוֹן וְלֹא יִדַּח מִמֶּנוּ נִידַּח כִּי אַתָּה ה׳ לְבַדֶּךָ מְקַבֵּץ נִדְחֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל. (יג) וּבְכֵן אֶת צֶמַח דָּוִד עַבְדֶּךָ מְהֵרָה תַּצְמִיחַ וְקַרְנוֹ תָּרוּם בִּישׁוּעָתֶךָ וירום הודו ותנשא עַל כָּל הָעוֹלָם כּוּלּוֹ (יד) וְתַחַת הַנַּעֲצוּץ יַעֲלֶה בְּרוֹשׁ וְתַחַת הַסִּרְפָּד יַעֲלֶה הָדָס וְהָיָה לַה׳ לְשֵׁם לְאוֹת עוֹלָם לֹא יִכָּרֵת (טו) וִיהִי פִסַּת בַּר בָאָרֶץ בְּרֹאשׁ הָרִים יִרְעַשׁ כַּלְּבָנוּן פִּרְיוֹ וְיָצִיצוּ מֵעִיר כְּעֵשֶׂב הָאָרֶץ (טז) אָז יְרַנְּנוּ עֲצֵי הַיַעַר וְעֵץ הַשָּׂדֶה נָשָׂא עָנָף וְעָשָׂה פֶרִי דְבַר יוֹם בְּיוֹמוֹ. (יז) וְלָקַחְתָּ מֵרֵאשִׁית כָּל פְּרִי הָאֲדָמָה לְהָבִיא בִּכּוּרִים לִפְנֵי מִזְבֵּחַ ה׳ בְּהַלֵּל וְתוֹדוֹת לַה׳ אֱלֹקֵינוּ וְרַב טוּב לְבֵית יִשְׂרָאֵל (יח) יְשׂוּשׂוּם מִדְבָּר וְצִיָּה וְתָגֵל עֲרָבָה וְתִפְרַח כַּחֲבַצֶלֶת פָּרוֹחַ תִפְרַח וְתָגֵל אַף גִילָת וְרַנֵּן כְּבוֹד הַלְּבָנוֹן נִיתַּן לָהּ הֲדַר הַכַּרְמֶל וְהַשָׁרוֹן הֵמָּה יִרְאוּ כְּבוֹד ה׳ הֲדַר אֱלֹקֵינוּ (יט) בִּמְהֵרָה בְיָמֵינוּ אָמֵן (כ) עֲשֵׂה לְמַעַן שְׁמֶךָ עֲשֵׂה לְמַעַן חַסְדֶּךָ עֲשֵׂה לְמַעַן יְמִינֶךָ עֲשֵׂה לְמַעַן תּוֹרָתֶךָ. (כא) יִֽהְי֥וּ לְרָצ֨וֹן ׀ אִמְרֵי־פִ֡י וְהֶגְי֣וֹן לִבִּ֣י לְפָנֶ֑יךָ ה' צוּרִ֥י וְגֹאֲלִֽי׃ (תהלים יט׃טו) (כב) וִיהִ֤י ׀ נֹ֤עַם אדושם אֱלֹקֵ֗ינוּ עָ֫לֵ֥ינוּ וּמַעֲשֵׂ֣ה יָ֭דֵינוּ כּוֹנְנָ֥ה עָלֵ֑ינוּ וּֽמַעֲשֵׂ֥ה יָ֝דֵ֗ינוּ כּוֹנְנֵֽהוּ׃ (תהלים צ׃יז)
The Tefillah for the Tikkun of Fruit
(6) May it be Your will Hashem our G!d and G!d of our ancestors, that through the sacred power of our eating fruit, which we are now eating and blessing, while reflecting on the secret of their supernal roots upon which they depend, their supernal sap will be aroused, so that shefa , favor, blessing, and bounty be bestowed upon them. May the angels appointed over them also be filled by the powerful shefa of their glory, may it return and cause them to grow a second time, from the beginning of the year and until its end, for bounty and blessing, for good life and peace.
(7) And fulfill for us the word which you promised us through Malachi, Your seer, "And I will banish the devourer from among you and he will not destroy the fruit of your earth and the vine of your field will not miscarry, says Hashem Tsevaot." Look down from your sacred dwelling place in heaven and bless us this year with bounty and blessing.
(8) "You will make him a source of blessings forever, you will cause him to rejoice in the joy of Your countenance," "And the earth will bestow its harvest and the tree of the field will yield its fruit."
(9) The blessing of goodness will come upon them, that its fruits will be blessed within us. Whether one eats a lot or a little, the health of his body will also be blessed. "There Hashem commanded blessing, eternal life."
(10) And may the splendid power of the blessings [said] while eating the fruit illuminate the source of blessings, Tsaddik, the Life of the Worlds, and let the rainbow appear, proudly rejoicing in its colors. From there, may shefa , favor, and compassion be bestowed upon us, to pardon and forgive the iniquities and misdeeds that we committed and sinned. We violated the covenant and damaged the fruit of Tsaddik, the Life of the Worlds, and caused the rains of its beneficence to be withheld, so that all the sources [of shefa ] were harmed. Now let everything return to its original might "and let His bow remain taut." "For You, Hashem , bless the Tsaddik, favor crowns him like a shield."
(11) And may all the holy sparks which were dispersed by us or by our ancestors and [also] through the sin that Adam committed with the fruit of the tree now return to be included in the splendid power of the Tree of Life. May all evil be removed from them through the power of Your great name which emerges from the verse, "the power that he swallows, he vomits out."
(21) May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart find favor before You, Hashem, my rock and my redeemer...
Sap is Rising Prayer
Kohenet Annie Matan, 2007
Goddess of healing
root of my wisdom
As this dark winter turns to spring
help me to feel your sap
flow through me
filled with nourishment and warmth
and the grounding force of the earth.
may I feel your arms around me each day
as a comfort
coaxing the tears and anger
from inside me
until I am fresh and new
laid open to my own eyes.
Be my mirror
so that I may see
the good and power inside me
so that I may see myself
as you see me.
The Seder (Order)
Source: Hazon Tu B'Shevat Haggadah
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֶלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, עֹשֶֹה מַעֲשֵֹה בְרֵאשִׁית:
Baruch ata, Adonai Eloheinu, melech ha-olam, o-seh ma-asei v’rei-sheet.
We praise You, Hashem our G!d, Creator of the universe, who continually does the work of creation.
The First World: Olam Ha'Aasiyah (Action)
The first stage of the Seder is the world of physicality, groundedness, day-to-day activity. It corresponds to the element of Earth and the season of Winter. During the winter, the frozen earth is covered with snow, concealing and protecting it from the harsh chilly winds. We too, cover our bodies with warm layers, shielding ourselves from the bitter cold.
This stage is about nurturing and protecting the physical and the internal, concealing parts of ourselves with tenderness and care to protect ourselves from the harshness and bitterness outside. This for the times when the closet is necessary, providing us with warmth and safety. We must protect ourselves and each other from harshness, cruelty, and neglect. We must never out one another, or even ourselves, when it is unsafe to do so.
Our first cup of wine or juice is pure white, like the winter snow. We see clearly through it, as we can see clearly through the leafless branches. But the branches and the trees in wintertime are not lifeless. They already have buds, formed in the fall, and ready to grow in the coming spring. They hold within their stillness and paleness, sparks of light, the potential for so much life and bright colour.
We each fill our glasses with white wine or juice, say the blessing together, and then drink half of the wine or juice:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְרִי הַגָּפֶן:
Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu melech ha-olam, borei p’ri hagafen.
We praise You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe who creates the fruit of the vine.
This first fruit has a hard, protective shell on the outside, and a soft, fleshy and vulnerable inside. As we eat the fruit of the physical world of action and protection, may we feel comfort and security in our bodies, in the ways we care for ourselves, and in our gender and sexual identities. May we be blessed with the strength and courage to wait out the winter, and to seek resources and environments where we may reveal our true selves.
We say the blessings and then eat a fruit with a hard outside and a soft inside: almond, banana, orange, persimmon, pineapple, pistachio, pomegranate, or walnut.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, בּוֹרֵא פְרִי הָעֵץ:
Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu melech ha-olam, borei p’ri ha-etz.
We praise You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe who creates the fruit of the tree.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְמַן הַזֶּה:
Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu melech ha-olam,she-he-cheyanu ve-kiyemanu ve-higi-anu laz’man ha-zeh
We praise You, Adonai our God, Ruler of the universe for giving us life, for sustaining us and for enabling us to reach this season.
Rabbi Tarfon likened the people of Israel to a pile of walnuts. If one walnut is removed, each and every walnut in the pile will be shaken. When a single Jew is shaken, every other Jew is shaken and affected. (Avot D’Rabbi Natan) Likewise, when a single species is endangered, the entire ecosystem is shaken and affected.
In the Song of Songs (Shir haShirim) we read: "Come my beloved, … let us see…if the pomegranates are in bloom." The Rabbis comment: "These are the children who are busy learning the Torah; they sit in rows like pomegranate seeds." Thus the gleaming red pomegranate seeds remind us that we, too, must be attentive to study Torah, and learn how we must care for our world.
The Second World - Olam HaYetzirah (Formation)
The second world is the emotional world of formation, creativity, the season of Spring. We add red - the colour of fire, and also of blood - to symbolize the beginning of the growth of life. Colours are deepening and we begin to remove our layers of protection, allowing ourselves to feel the warmth of the spring sunshine.
It is scary to be vulnerable, to come out and reveal our identities. We don't know who will accept us or what we will grow into. The element of this world is water, the necessary ingredient for all life. Water is eternally transforming, changing it's state to adapt to it's environment, while simultaneously changing the very landforms over which it flows. Sometimes we feel we must change ourselves to fit into a homophobic and hostile society, and yet, at the same time, we will slowly and surely transform this society with our creativity, colour, and warmth.
We add red wine to the white wine that is already in our cups, so that the cup is again full, say the blessing together, and then again drink only half of the wine in the cup.
As we eat the fruit of Y’tzirah, may we feel the warmth of the Spring as we remove our protective layers. May we learn to transform using creativity, care, and love.
We say the blessings and then eat a fruit with a soft outside and hard inside: apricot, avocado, cherry, date, mango, nectarine, olive, peach or plum.
The olive tree is a sign of hope that, despite the enormity of destruction, life can be restored. When the great flood began to subside, Noah sent out a dove. "The dove came back to him toward evening, and there in its bill was a leaf it had picked from an olive tree." (Genesis 8:11)
Tzadik katamar yifrach
K’erez bal’vanon yisgeh
The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree; they will grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
The Hidden Life of Trees
by Peter Wohlleben
But why are trees such social beings? Why do they share food with their own species and sometimes even go so far as to nourish their competitors? The reasons are the same as for human communities: there are advantages to working together. A tree is not a forest. On its own, a tree cannot establish a consistent local climate. It is at the mercy of the wind and weather. But together, many trees create an ecosystem that moderates extremes of heat and cold, stores a great deal of water, and generates a great deal of humidity. And in this protected environment, trees can live to be very old. To get to this point, the community must remain intact no matter what. If every tree were looking out only for itself, then quite a few of them would never reach old age. [...]
Every tree, therefore, is valuable to the community and worth keeping around for as long as possible. And that is why sick individuals are supported and nourished until they recover. Next time, perhaps it will be the other way round, and the supporting tree might be the one in need of assistance. When thick silver-gray beeches behave like this, they remind me of a herd of elephants. Like the herd, they, too, look after their own, and they help their sick and weak back up onto their feet.
The Third World: Olam HaBriyah (Creation)
The third stage is the thinking world of Creation, corresponding with Summer. We have made it to the fullness and lushness of this season. This is a time of abundant harvest and openness. The trees are firmly rooted, and blooming beautifully.
In this sturdy environment, we are free to be fully out as ourselves, openly proud of our vibrant colours. Our outside expression reflects our true thoughts. The element of this stage is Air, and we can now breathe freely. May we all experience opportunities to let down our guards, precious relationships in which we can be fully ourselves.
We add more red wine so that our cups are once again full. We say the blessing together, and then drink almost the entire cup, so that only a drop is left.
As we eat the fruit of B’riyah, the world of thoughts and creation, may we find that there is harmony between our thoughts and our actions, between ourselves and the worlds we inhabit.
We say the blessings and then eat a fruit with a soft inside and soft outside: blackberry, blueberry, carob, fig, grape, kiwi, raspberry, or strawberry.
A Talmudic story is told about Honi, who saw an old man planting a carob tree. His grandchild was helping him. Honi laughed. "Foolish man", he said, "do you think you will still be alive to eat the fruit of this tree?"
The old man replied, "I found trees in the world when I was born. My grandparents planted them for me. So, too, I am planting for my grandchildren."
The Fourth World: Olam Ha'Atzilut (Spirit)
The last stage is the world of Spirit, mysterious and deep, corresponding with the element of Fire. This represents the full bloom of Autumn, in its glorious wholeness and fiery colours.
As the seasons change, so do we. We started this evening by protecting our softness, and slowly peeling away our hard protective shells. We uncovered our colours, revealing rich hues, growth, and creativity. We eventually came to a place where there the internal and external are equally soft, delicious, and colourful. Here there is no distinction between the protected and the protectors, there is no need for hierarchical or harmful gender roles in this world.
May we find ourselves in supportive and caring communities, where all of our elements and colours are celebrated. Like the trees, may we learn from and care for our elders, our children, our vulnerable ones, and our strong ones. And as we know, autumn will fade into winter, and the cold will come again, so may we nourish ourselves with resilience and warmth.
As we drink the fourth cup of pure red wine or juice, may we become strong, like healthy trees, with solid roots in the ground and our arms open to the love and warmth around us.
We fill our cups once again with red wine, adding to the small drop at the bottom that still contains some white, say the blessing together and then drink the entire glass.
L’Shana tova uv’racha p’ri ut’nuvah
May the year be fruitful and blessed!
L’shana haba’a bi-Y’rushalayim hab’nuya
Next year in Jerusalem rebuilt!