Shevat 15, January/February
Also known as “The New Year for the Trees,” Tu Bishvat commemorates our connection to nature and the Land of Israel. Today, Tu Bishvat is celebrated by planting trees or giving money to the Jewish National Fund to plant trees in Israel.
The holiday is debated in the Talmud. Talmudic Rabbis claimed that at this point in the year the fruit of the trees begins to form. Therefore, during Tu Bishvat Jews eat fruits such as those mentioned in Deuteronomy (Devarim) 8:8, also known as the “seven species of Israel:”
Many Jewish congregations today hold a Tu Bishvat seder. Based in Kabbalah (a mystical methodology for interpreting Jewish texts) the seder includes fruits from three categories:
- Fruits that are totally edible (e.g. grapes, figs, apples, berries).
- Fruits with pits inside but an edible outside (e.g. olives, dates, cherries, peaches).
- Fruits with a shell that must be discarded and an edible inside (e.g. pomegranates, nuts, and coconuts).
According to the Kabbalah, the parts of the fruits that can be eaten represent holiness, the inedible parts represent impurities, and the shells protect the fragile holiness inside.
Press play to hear the pronunciation: