The Mishnah's designation "New Year of the Trees" was not merely a poetic phrase. It had profound bearing on Jewish law. In order to observe certain mitzvot it was necessary to know how old a tree was. Tu B'Shevat was the official "birthday" for all trees and this day was the official deadline. In Temple days, offerings had to be set aside from all new fruit and crop produce. Fruit gathered from the previous year’s produce could not be used for tithes due on fruit gathered in the next year. The age of the tree was significant from another halachic aspect. The law of orlah forbids eating from fruit trees during the first three years after they have been planted.
Today Tu B'Shevat is a time to consider our more general connection to the earth and our obligation to take care of it. The Jewish tradition of 'tikkun olam' repairing the world--can be taken in an ecological as well as a spiritual sense. On this day, then, we can renew our commitment to this philosophy by taking matters into our own hands. For example, we could commit ourselves to planting a garden, lobbying our politicians to protect our natural resources, by planning a family recycling project and giving to the J.N.F. to help the land of Israel.
At TBA, our Religious school will be celebrating with a Seder, Sunday, February 9th at and with a special planting. From their youngest years our students learn the importance of appreciating the natural world and understanding our role as responsible stewards.
We look forward to seeing you on Sunday night, February 9th, as we celebrate with our special Tu B’Shevat Wine Tasting with details coming soon. This adult holiday celebration is one not to be missed. This year’s event will feature clean and crafted wines that are almost completely free of sulfites and other flavor enhancers. You will taste and feel the difference.
To a lively and healthy 2020,
Rabbi Mark Blazer