​ Tu b'shvat: A Tree and Me

When and what is Tu b'Shvat?


(א) אַרְבָּעָה רָאשֵׁי שָׁנִים הֵן: ...בְּאֶחָד בִּשְׁבָט, רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה לָאִילָן, כְּדִבְרֵי בֵית שַׁמַּי; וּבֵית הֶלֵּל אוֹמְרִין: בַּחֲמִשָּׁה עָשָׂר בּוֹ.

(1) The four new years are: ...On the first of Shevat, the new year for the trees, these are the words of the House of Shammai; The House of Hillel says, on the fifteenth thereof.


BONUS! : What do you call the day after Tu b'shvat? _____________________


Are there special מצוות to do with trees?


(כג) וְכִי־תָבֹ֣אוּ אֶל־הָאָ֗רֶץ וּנְטַעְתֶּם֙ כָּל־עֵ֣ץ מַאֲכָ֔ל וַעֲרַלְתֶּ֥ם עָרְלָת֖וֹ אֶת־פִּרְי֑וֹ שָׁלֹ֣שׁ שָׁנִ֗ים יִהְיֶ֥ה לָכֶ֛ם עֲרֵלִ֖ים לֹ֥א יֵאָכֵֽל׃ (כד) וּבַשָּׁנָה֙ הָרְבִיעִ֔ת יִהְיֶ֖ה כָּל־פִּרְי֑וֹ קֹ֥דֶשׁ הִלּוּלִ֖ים לַה' (כה) וּבַשָּׁנָ֣ה הַחֲמִישִׁ֗ת תֹּֽאכְלוּ֙ אֶת־פִּרְי֔וֹ לְהוֹסִ֥יף לָכֶ֖ם תְּבוּאָת֑וֹ אֲנִ֖י ה' אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃

(23) And when you come into the land, and planted all types of trees for food, then you shall count their fruit as forbidden; for three years it shall be forbidden to you; it shall not be eaten. (24) And in the fourth year all their fruit shall be holy, for giving praise to Ad-nai. (25) But in the fifth year you may eat of their fruit, that they may yield to you more richly: I am Ad-nai your G-d.


W​hy might we be protecting the fruit from trees? Why wait?

(ב) וְלָקַחְתָּ֞ מֵרֵאשִׁ֣ית ׀ כָּל־פְּרִ֣י הָאֲדָמָ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֨ר תָּבִ֧יא מֵֽאַרְצְךָ֛ אֲשֶׁ֨ר ה' אֱלֹקֶ֛יךָ נֹתֵ֥ן לָ֖ךְ וְשַׂמְתָּ֣ בַטֶּ֑נֶא וְהָֽלַכְתָּ֙ אֶל־הַמָּק֔וֹם אֲשֶׁ֤ר יִבְחַר֙ ה' אֱלֹקֶ֔יךָ לְשַׁכֵּ֥ן שְׁמ֖וֹ שָֽׁם׃

(2) you shall take some of every first fruit of the soil, which you harvest from the land that the L-RD your G-d is giving you, put it in a basket and go to the place where the L-RD your G-d will choose to establish His name.


How is the TORAH compared to a tree?

(יח) עֵץ־חַיִּ֣ים הִ֭יא לַמַּחֲזִיקִ֣ים בָּ֑הּ וְֽתֹמְכֶ֥יהָ מְאֻשָּֽׁר׃ (פ)
(18) She is a tree of life to those who grasp her, And whoever holds on to her is happy.

How are WE compared to trees?

(יג) צַ֭דִּיק כַּתָּמָ֣ר יִפְרָ֑ח כְּאֶ֖רֶז בַּלְּבָנ֣וֹן יִשְׂגֶּֽה׃

(13) The righteous bloom like a date-palm (gives fruit); they thrive like a cedar (tall and strong) in Lebanon;


A date palm is known for giving lots of fruit. A cedar is known to be a very strong tree that grows to be extremely tall and large!


Since we are compared to trees, how should we treat them?


(יט) כִּי תָצוּר אֶל עִיר יָמִים רַבִּים לְהִלָּחֵם עָלֶיהָ לְתָפְשָׂהּ לֹא תַשְׁחִית אֶת עֵצָהּ לִנְדֹּחַ עָלָיו גַּרְזֶן כִּי מִמֶּנּוּ תֹאכֵל וְאֹתוֹ לֹא תִכְרֹת כִּי הָאָדָם עֵץ הַשָּׂדֶה לָבֹא מִפָּנֶיךָ בַּמָּצוֹר.

(19) When you war against a city you have to besiege (trap/encircle) it a long time in order to capture it, you must not destroy the trees, wielding an ax against them. You may eat from their fruit, but you must not cut them down. Is the tree of the field a human, to escape from you into the captured city?


Trees give us so MUCH! What should we bless them with on their ראש השנה ?


...אילן אילן במה אברכך אם אומר לך שיהו פירותיך מתוקין הרי פירותיך מתוקין שיהא צילך נאה הרי צילך נאה שתהא אמת המים עוברת תחתיך הרי אמת המים עוברת תחתיך אלא יהי רצון שכל נטיעות שנוטעין ממך יהיו כמותך.

...Tree, O Tree, with what shall I bless you? Shall I say to you, ‘May thy fruits be sweet’? They are sweet already; that your shade be pleasant? It is already pleasant; that a stream of water may flow beneath you? Look, a stream of water flows already beneath you; therefore [I say], ‘May it be G-d's will that all your shoots shall be just like you.

17 יז