This is the month when we tell the story Of the escape from the narrow place. This is the month of Shabbat Shirah, When we sing the song of liberation. We give thanks for freedom. This is the month when we talk of wine and nuts and fruit, The New Year of the Trees. This is the month of Tu Bishvat When we eat the gifts of our planet. We give thanks to the earth. . . . → Read More: Rosh Ḥodesh Shevat
Ḥaza”l suggest that at this season in particular, we honor the spirits of our friends and teachers, the trees. On Rosh HaShanah La’Ilan, the New Year of The Tree, we connect with the spirits of those trees. According to Rabbi Tzvi Elimelekh of Dinov (B’nei Yissakhar):
On this day the saraf, the sap containing the Holy Sparks in those trees, begins its upward flow. That saraf contains a spiritual dimension, a ‘fire’ or ‘burning energy’, the sacred sparks that the fruits of the Holy Land contain in abundance. On this day, HaShem our Creator begins to place the first sacred sparks into the tree, from where the fruits of the coming year will emerge. Those sparks can ignite the reponsive soul with a burning desire to rise even higher and closer to HaShem.
. . . → Read More: Seder Rosh Hashanah La’Ilan: A four worlds seder for Tu Bishvat
The four teachings above are connected with the Four Worlds that the kabbalists saw as the architecture of the universe. When the Kabbalistic community of Tz’fat created the Seder for Tu BiShvat/ Yah BiShvat, they unfolded these Four Worlds in four cups of wine and four sorts of fruit and nuts (one sort so ethereal it was invisible and untouchable). This year, the full moon of Shvat will fall on Shabbat Shira itself, January 24-25. . . . → Read More: Rebirthing the Tree(s) of Life: Four Teachings for the Four Worlds of Tu BiShvat/Yah BiShvat
The Tu Bishvat seder is a metaphor. But usually we use metaphor in our daily lives to accomplish, persuade, inspire or explain. There is something we’re bending metaphor to accomplish. This meditation is an exercise in free-thinking. Here, just play with metaphor for the sake of expressing and exploring your emotional state, history, anticipations and apprehensions. Each of the quotations from the Torah or rabbinical writings below represents an emotion. After we say the blessing over the olives, read the quotations, pick one (or more) that resonate, and play with the metaphor to reach a deeper understanding of yourself and others. . . . → Read More: A Tu Bishvat Seder Meditation on the World of Yetzira by Ben Murane
From [the Holy One’s] form/to’ar the constellations are shimmering, and God’s form projects the exalted ones. And Her crown blazes [with] the mighty, and His garment flows with the precious. And all the trees will rejoice in the word, and the plants will exult in His rejoicing, and His words shall drop as perfumes, flowing forth flames of fire, giving joy to those who search them, and quiet to those who fulfill them. . . . → Read More: On Sweet Fruit and Deep Mysteries: Kabbalistic and Midrashic Texts to Sweeten your Tu Bishvat Seder
In the wake of the continued uprooting of fruit trees and human settlements in the Land of Israel, Rabbis for Human Rights-North America shared the following petitionary prayer. . . . → Read More: A Tu Bishvat Prayer for Trees
We are grateful to Dr. Barak Gale and Dr. Ami Goodman, for sharing their Tu Bishvat Haggadah, The Trees Are Davvening, with a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA) license. We’ll be developing their full unabridged version (currently online via the Coalition on the Environment & Jewish Life (COEJL) just as soon as . . . → Read More: The Trees are Davvening (abridged), a Tu Bishvat Haggadah by Dr. Barak Gale and Dr. Ami Goodman
This prayer, and the seder, are based on the Kabbalah of the four worlds and the ancient idea that everything physical is an image of the spiritual. Traditionally this prayer was recited at the beginning of the seder, but it can also be recited at the end. Bracketed words are added; words in parentheses are . . . → Read More: A Prayer for the Tu Bishvat Seder
Through eating those fruits that our sages of blessed memory identified as the fruit of the tree of knowledge, we recall the best of creation, in its beauty and completeness. We remember that every human being, by virtue of being a human being, is the pinnacle of creation. Our task as caretakers is to preserve the world, to work it, and to repair it. Our task is to make the State of Israel more just, so that she will be a blessing to all of her inhabitants and those who love her. . . . → Read More: The Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge by Rabbi Dalia Marx
In 1993, the Rosh Hashana for Trees, the 15th of the month of Sh’vat (Tu Bishvat) coincided with Shabbat.
יוֹם הַשִּׁשִּׁי׃ וַיְכֻלּוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם וְהָאָרֶץ וְכָל צְבָאָם: וַיְכַל אֱלֹהִים בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה: וַיִּשְׁבֹּת בַּיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי מִכָּל מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה: וַיְבָרֶךְ אֱלֹהִים אֶת יוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי וַיְקַדֵּשׁ אֹתוֹ, כִּי בוֹ שָׁבַת מִכָּל מְלַאכְתּוֹ אֲשֶׁר בָּרָא . . . → Read More: Kiddush of Liberation for Shabbat Tu Bishvat
From the Pri Etz Hadar, the first ever published seder for Tu Bishvat, circa 17th century: “speech has the power to arouse the sefirot and to cause them to shine more wondrously with a very great light that sheds abundance, favor, blessing, and benefit throughout all the worlds. Consequently, before eating each fruit, it is proper to meditate on the mystery of its divine root, as found in the Zohar and, in some cases, in the tikkunim, in order to arouse their roots above.” . . . → Read More: Pri Etz Hadar, the first ever Tu BiShvat Seder (circa 17th Century)