What is Tu BiShvat or Tu B'Shevat ?
Tu BiShvat or Tu B'Shevat is the "New Year For Trees" or the "New Year Of The Trees" in Judaism. It is a kind of Arbor Day as well as an environmental and ecological awareness day. The transliterated Hebrew name for the "New Year For Trees" or the "New Year Of The Trees" or colloquially-speaking, the "Birthday Of The Trees" is "Rosh Hashanah L'Ilanot".
Tu BiShvat or Tu B'Shevat takes place on the 15th day of the 11th Hebrew/Jewish month of Shvat or Shevat, which is on the day of the full moon for Shvat or Shevat. In the Gregorian calendar, this date occurs in either January or February, depending on the year.
Tu BiShvat or Tu B'Shevat celebrates the first beginnings of the Springtime season in Israel. The time of the beginning of the Spring season in Israel is equivalent to the time of the beginning of the Spring season in Texas, as both climates are similar in either January or February. However, for Jews living in most other parts of the world, in January or February, the beginning of the Spring season seems a long way off.
What is the significance of Tu BiShvat or Tu B'Shevat ?
The significance of Tu BiShvat or Tu B'Shevat is to illustrate to the Jewish people the importance of trees and nature in general throughout their history. Tu BiShvat or Tu B'Shevat demonstrates how inextricably linked the Hebrews/Jews were and are with their land, the Land of Israel, as well as with their reliance on G-d to bring rain and keep the trees and nature in general nourished with water so that in the case of the fruit-trees, the Hebrews/Jews could reap the benefits of their fruit.
What are the transliterated spellings of Tu BiShvat or Tu B'Shevat ?
Since it is difficult to equate exact sounds from Hebrew into English, there are different phonetic transliterations for Tu BiShvat or Tu B'Shevat. These are as follows and are ordered by popularity, including the ones we have already mentioned:
- Tu B'Shevat
- Tu B'Shvat
- Tu BiShvat
- Tu BeShvat
- Tu Bi Shvat
- Tu Bi Shevat
- Tu BiShevat
- Tu BeShevat
- Tu Be Shevat
- Tu Be Shvat
- Tu BaShvat
- Tu Ba Shvat
- Tu Ba Shevat
- Tu BaShevat
What do the words "Tu BiShvat or Tu B'Shevat" as well as the other transliterations literally mean?
Tu BiShvat or Tu B'Shevat in addition to the other transliterations, literally means: the "15th day of (the 11th Hebrew month of) Shevat (or Shvat)" in Hebrew. This is because the holiday of Tu BiShvat or Tu B'Shevat indeed occurs every year in the Hebrew/Jewish calendar on the 15th day of the 11th Hebrew month, which is known as Shevat or Shvat.
When was Tu BiShvat or Tu B'Shevat first mentioned in Hebrew/Jewish religious literature ?
Tu BiShvat or Tu B'Shevat as the name for this day in Judaism was first mentioned in the Talmud. According to the Babylonian Talmud, in the Mishnah (one of two main divisions of the Talmud, the other being the Gemara), in the Mishnah Tractate Rosh Hashanah 1:1, the name Tu BiShvat or Tu B'Shevat is mentioned as being one of four Jewish "New Years".
When does Tu BiShvat or Tu B'Shevat fall in the Gregorian calendar?
In the Gregorian calendar, Tu BiShvat or Tu B'Shevat always falls in either January or February. However, as mentioned, in the Hebrew/Jewish calendar, Tu BiShvat or Tu B'Shevat always falls on the 15th day of the 11th Hebrew month of Shevat or Shvat.
What is the purpose of Tu BiShvat or Tu B'Shevat ?
On the 15th day of Shevat or Shvat, the Jewish people:
- Re-evaluate their relationship to nature. This is the ecological aspect of the holiday.
- Jews also re-evaluate their role in the care and maintenance of trees as well as their responsibility to keep the land of Israel in bloom. This is the environmental aspect of the holiday.
- To fulfill the aforementioned purposes of Tu BiShvat or Tu B'Shevat, special attention is given to reforestation, swamp drainage, and the reclamation of Eretz Israel (the "Land of Israel" in Hebrew), that is, the land that is located in Israel. Jewish people worldwide will also either send donations of money to Jewish organizations that support tree-planting in Israel and/or plant trees in the community where they live.
- Since the 16th century C.E., Kabbalistic Jews (Jews who follow Jewish mysticism) will prepare a Tu BiShvat Seder / Tu B'Shevat Seder, which is a festive meal held on Tu BiShvat / Tu B'Shevat. The Seder is called a Seder because it is conducted according to a specific order of events that are necessary in order to properly complete the meal ("Seder" means "order" in Hebrew). The Seder wil consist of serving many different types of fruits from fruit trees (especially fruits that are grown in Israel), each of which are preceded by a blessing that is recited over each fruit before eating it.
What does Tu BiShvat or Tu B'Shevat have in common with Rosh Hashanah ?
Just as the day of Rosh Hashanah is a "Day of Judgement" for human beings in that the fate of all humans for the coming year are judged by G-d on this day, with some people immediately being inscribed for life in the Book fo Life and some being inscribed for death in the Book of Death while the majority of the people are temporarily inscribed into either the Book of Life or Book of Death until 8 days later on Yom Kippur (or 9 days if one celebrates Rosh Hashanah for 1 day rather than two days), when a final judgement is given by G-d concerning their fate based on whether or not they sincerely and wholeheartedly repented for transgressions made during the past year through intense prayer conducted during the 10 days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, so too is Tu BiShvat or Tu B'Shevat a "Day of Judgement" for trees and nature in general, where G-d judges the trees and nature as to whether or not G-d will bring forth rain and in what quantity so that the trees survive and grow fruit, which will help in restocking the food supply and enabling the survival of the Hebrew/Jewish people. Both the day of Rosh Hashanah and the day of Tu BiShvat or Tu B'Shevat are also "New Year" days for humans and trees/nature, respectively, that is, both days mark an important event - being the Day of Judgement - and transition point in time (from one year to the next year) that takes place in the Hebrew/Jewish calendar.
For more information about the holiday of Tu BiShevat / Tu B'Shevat, check out our other sections just below here.
Tu Bishvat - Tu B'Shevat Home Page
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