When’s the last time you wished a tree Happy New Year? Coming up this year on Monday, January 21, is a great opportunity to do exactly that. The day is known as Tu B’Shevat, and Jewish people throughout the world celebrate it as the New Year of Trees.
Well, it’s the trees that will celebrate, but we’ll celebrate together with them! After all, the Torah says, “Man is a tree of the field.” We are nurtured by deep roots, as far back as Abraham and Sarah; we reach upwards to the heavens while standing firmly on the ground; and when we do all this right, we produce delicious fruit that benefits the world—namely, our good deeds.
Since Tu B’Shevat is known as the “New Year for Trees”, this would naturally be a time for trees to engage in soul-searching — the same way people do on Rosh Hashanah. Here is a tree’s New Year Checklist by Rabbi Shlomo Yaffe which we have posted on ChabadChayil.org/tubshvat:
● Did I shelter the seedlings that live in my shade — so they will grow up to be a next generation like myself?
● Did I grow towards the sun as a tree should, reaching up higher and higher towards that which I can never grasp, but which nurtures me all the same the more I strive towards it?
● Did I make sure my roots remain firmly planted in the soil that nurtures them, and did I drop my leaves there in the fall to give back life to that which sustains me?
● Did I ensure that my fruits were sweet and nourished all that came to enjoy them? Did everyone walk away from me with a smile?
● Did I bend gently in the wind, accepting what G‑d sends but never breaking or giving up hope?
● Did I grow in strength and wisdom with each new ring this year?
Come to think of it, it’s not a bad checklist for us humans either!
Traditionally, we make sure to eat fruit on this day. After all, that’s what the fruits were created for. And like us, they are happy and feel fulfilled when they serve their purpose. We try to include some of those fruit for which Israel is famous, like olives, dates, grapes, figs and pomegranates. But regardless of which fruit we eat, as with any food, we always precede it with a blessing, thanking G-d for sharing with us his delicious creations.
You can learn more about this holiday at ChabadChayil.org/tubshvat.
We wish all our neighbors and friends a Happy Tu B’Shvat! May all our trees grow forth beautifully, giving off delicious fruit!
About the author:
Rabbi Kievman is the ambassador of The Rebbe to Highland Lakes, FL. He’s founder of CHAP – an afterschool program for Jewish children in Public Schools, rabbi at The Family Shul & together with his wife directs Chabad Chayil. He can be reached at (305) 770-1919 or rabbi@ChabadChayil.org