Our thoughts will soon be with what we are planning to have in our gardens and the beauty that spring rains provide. Our hands are itching to have a go in the dirt and get so grimy that we need nail brushes to get them clean, unless, you wear gloves.
But in Israel there are two main seasons, one is the rainy season (winter) that starts just after Rosh Hashanah and the hot and dry season. The winter season is when the rain appears and that water is a much-needed commodity. It is during this time that the water is the guiding force for nourishing the dormant tree.
Tu B’Shevat comes in Israel’s spring on the 15th day of Shevat. Tu B’ Shevat is the Jewish New Year of the Trees.
In Leviticus 19:23-25 states the importance of this day with: When you enter the land and plant any kind of fruit tree, regard its fruit as forbidden. Three years the fruit must not be eaten. In the fourth year it is an offering to G-d and in the fifth year, the fruit may be eaten. By doing this your harvest will be increased.
Here in America, we are still in the doldrums of winter. In Israel, around Tu B’Shevat, first the almond trees bloom then the peaches and apricots and other fruit trees follow suit.
It is customary on this day to eat fruit and other produce that is grown in Israel – almonds, olives, dates, grapes, figs and pomegranates, etc.
You will find the reference to Tu B’Shevat in Deuteronomy 8:7-10: For the Lord your G-d is bringing you unto a good land, a land with streams and springs and fountains issuing from plain and hill; a land of wheat and barley, of vines, figs and pomegranates, a land where you may eat food without stint, where you will lack nothing; a land whose rocks are iron and from whose hills you can mine copper. When you have eaten your fill, give thanks to The Lord your G-d for the good land which has been given to you.
This holiday, as with Arbor Day, reminds us that we are stewards of this earth and we should protect this land that was given to us. It is important for us to reserve our natural resources so it can be passed on to a new generation. First and foremost, we can plant trees in place of those that have rotted or been cut down.
Trees form a barrier for toxins in the air. If there is no public transportation in your area, we can conserve by making sure our automobiles are in excellent repair with tires inflated to the right gauge so the gas mileage is right and not idling your car for any length of time in the driveway or carpooling!
To save on gasoline, you should shop local, which also increases job growth, keeps the family farms in existence and also saves fuel on items such as meat that has to be trucked in.
So, plant a tree and watch it grow and satisfy within yourself that you helped the world in your own little way of sustaining this place we call home for what seems like a blip.