Tu B'Shevat (New Year of the Trees) Print
Written by Victoria Radin   


Happy New Year!

"He shall be like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers." (Psalm 1:3)

“The New Year of the Trees” (  Tu B’Shevat) is the fifteenth day of Shevat in the Jewish calendar, thus falling on the full moon, the brightest day of the month. It is one of the four “new years” on the Hebrew calendar because it is the time when fruit begins to form on the trees in Israel. In Israel, the day is commemorated with elaborate tree-planting ceremonies. Some families celebrate the day by eating foods made from the five fruits and two grains associated with the land (Deuteronomy 8:8): wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates (date honey). It is said that it is the time to eat the fruits of the Tree of Life, the great and mighty tree of the Garden of Eden. [Prophetically, it can be seen as a day to pray for the fruits of the Spirit of G-d to begin to grow in the Israeli people.]

The different types of fruits are said to express three types of relationships. Those fruits that have no pits on the inside nor shells on the outside are fully edible, symbolizing a relationship of deep trust and intimacy. Those fruits that have pits on the inside, but the outside can be fully eaten symbolize a relationship with some interpersonal contact, but a guarded private self. Those fruits that have shells on the outside that must be discarded represent a very guarded relationship, that of a stranger.

Because trees are symbols of men (Deut. 20:19), the apostle Paul uses the fruit of trees as an indication of righteousness or wickedness in a person’s life. Good ‘fruit’ is the evidence of the indwelling Spirit of G-d in a believer: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance (Gal. 5:22). In order to ‘grow’ these good fruits, one must connect to the Tree of Life, the Torah, the Word of G-d, who, as believers, we know is Yeshua (Jesus). In doing so, an individual will someday be able to enter Paradise, i.e. the Garden of Eden.

“You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Even so every good tree bears good fruit; but a bad tree bears bad fruit...Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down, and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” (Matthew 7:16-17, 19-20)

On Tu B’Shevat, we are encouraged to return to the Garden of Eden and reconnect to the Tree of Life, to grasp eternity and how life could be again––with no thorns or thistles, no returning to the dust. Michael Strassfeld, in his book The Jewish Holidays, declares that the Tree of Life is the Torah on whose fruits we feed:

“......in the middle of the Garden stands the Torah––the Tree of Eternal Life, whose fruits we eat on Tu B’Shevat, and whose fruits sustain us all the days of our lives.” (p. 184)

It is time to examine our lives as to what type of fruit we bear, i.e. what type of relationship we have with the L-rd. Tu B’Shevat represents the beginning of our lives in the L-rd. Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) represents the final harvest, when all believers will be rewarded by the evidence of fruit in their lives. Our fruits as they are revealed on Sukkot at the final harvest, will indicate the type of relationship we have had with the L-rd: one of deep intimacy; one with only some interpersonal contact; or that of a stranger. Knowing the L-rd is tantamount to having the intimacy pictured in the fully edible fruit connected to the Tree of Life by the Spirit of G-d.

“Not every one who says to Me, ‘L-rd, L-rd’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘L-rd, L-rd, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21-23)