The New Year for Trees and Their Significance: Tu B’shevat 2019

treeThroughout 2019, posts will come out that celebrate Jewish and Israeli special days. Today is “Tu B’Shevat, 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.

Trees play a significant role in the Jewish Bible / Old Testament. Pomegranates have always been related to God’s people multiplying, thriving and be successful and another strong example is the fig tree.

  • Micah 4:4 “Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken.”
  • Joel 1:12 “The grapevines have dried up, and the fig trees have withered. The pomegranate trees, palm trees, and apple trees–all the fruit trees–have dried up. And the people’s joy has dried up with them.”

Botannically, the fig tree is a keystone species and is eaten by over 1200 kinds of animals and is also thought to have been a critical food source for people. So as the fig tree flourishes, or dies back, so does the prosperity and safety of God’s people, Isra’el.

Another beautiful example of how in God’s Word, trees are symbols of peace with the Lord, times of rest and prosperity, comes from Isaiah:

“You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,
that will endure forever.”
Isaiah 55:12-13

eating watermelonHistorically, the “new year” for trees related to the various tithes (offerings or in some cases, taxes) that were separated from produce grown in the Holy Land. These tithes differed 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.

Jewish people 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 people remember that “man is a tree of the field” (Deuteronomy 20:19), and reflect on the lessons we can derive from our botanical analogue.”

Historical Information Source:

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One Woman’s Courage: Celebrating #Purim ~ #Esther


5f6cc1b4e4a0932476a9d31c927d275bAbridged from the Jewish Virtual Library: The story of Purim is told in the Biblical book of Esther. The heroes of the story are Esther, a beautiful young Jewish woman living in Persia, and her cousin Mordecai, who raised her as if she were his daughter. Esther was taken to the house of Ahasuerus, King of Persia, to become part of his harem, and he loved her more than his other women and made her queen. But the king did not know that Esther was a Jew, because Mordecai told her not to reveal her nationality. The villain of the story is Haman, an arrogant, egotistical advisor to the king. Haman hated Mordecai because Mordecai refused to bow down to Haman, so Haman plotted to destroy the Jewish people.

Through Esther’s courage and willingness to put her life on the line when approaching the King, the Jewish people were saved, and Haman was hanged on the gallows that had been prepared for Mordecai.

The book of Esther is unusual in that it is the only book of the bible that does not contain the name of God. In fact, it includes virtually no reference to God. Thus, one important message that can be gained from the story is that God often works in ways that are not apparent, in ways that appear to be chance, coincidence or ordinary good luck.

Purim is celebrated on the 14th day of Adar, which is usually in March. The 14th of Adar is the day that Haman chose for the extermination of the Jews. The word “Purim” means “lots” and refers to the lottery that Haman used to choose the date for the massacre.

The primary Jewish commandment related to Purim is to hear the reading of the book of Esther. The book of Esther is commonly known as the Megillah, which means scroll.  It is customary to boo, hiss, stamp feet and rattle gragers (noisemakers; see illustration) whenever the name of Haman is mentioned in the service. The purpose of this custom is to “blot out the name of Haman.” The Talmud (not the Bible)  commands Jews to eat, drink and be merry.

It is customary to send out gifts of food or drink, and to make gifts to charity. Jews also hold carnival-like celebrations on Purim, to perform plays and parodies, and to hold beauty contests.

Purim Megillah

Purim Megillah

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