Bishvat and our hope for a better future
By: Rabbi Carlos Tapiero,
MWU Deputy - Director General & Director of Education
February 7, 2012
ט"ו בשבת והתקווה
and our hope for a better future
In a few hours
we will begin the celebration of Tu Bishvat, the 15th of the month of
Shvat which establishes the "New Year of Trees". The celebration has a
distinctly national theme: the renewal of natural life in the
Land of Israel, which is the birthplace of the Jewish State the State
that marks the beginning of the redemption of our People.
In the Diaspora
and Israel, many Jewish families and communities include a Tu BiShvat
Seder similar to the Passover Seder, where they eat typical
Israeli fruits and drink red and white wines. In Israel, there is an
addition to this beautiful ritual: youth and families visit the forests
of the country - which have the highest level of afforestation in the
world. This establishes their contact with one of the most tangible
contributions among our people and the God of Israel: the greening of
the world He gave us as His inheritance.
The fruits we
eat are divided into three basic categories:
the World of Creation (God's): fruits we can eat in full, i.e. figs.
the World of Creativity (humans): those we eat in majority, and plant
their seeds for its reproduction - such as apples.
the World of Action: those we eat the content but their shells are
discarded i.e. nuts.
Tu Bishvat is
both the celebration of the natural world, in its universality, and the
particular relationship the Jewish People have with the Land that allows
the totality of our Jewish identity. It is heaven, earth, man and God,
all interrelated, and the People of Israel, Land of Israel, State of
Israel and God of Israel, in their most basic connection.
There is something beautiful in the message of our Sages of the
choice of date for the celebration of this natural rebirth:
the middle of winter in Israel. Common sense would say that this
celebration should take place on the 1st of Nisan - the
beginning of spring, a better date to celebrate the renewal of the
natural cycle of the Land, "the New Year of Trees". Our Sages include an
additional message to those we pointed out the universal/ecological
message and the national redemption of the Land of Israel. They teach us
that after the winter cold and the "freezing" of nature that, after the
strongest storms, the sun will reappear, and with it,
recreate natural life once again. We celebrate Tu BiShvat in the winter
as a hopeful assertion that much of the richest, most productive, more
encouraging initiatives and actions are born precisely in difficult
times of darkness and cold; that the world is recreated in its
challenges, replicating and expanding past creations in the spring to
come. We welcome the trees in winter, because we know that they will get
through it as we will - renewing their magic foliage in the future.
May we learn to
celebrate the life of the world we
in, respect it and give it the knowledge we have for its best future.
May we be able
to feel our deepest connection to the miracle of the Land of Israel and
the State which was reborn in it.
And may we be
able to see the light, heat and spring in the winters that life will
likely bring to us.
Director-General & Director of Education
The name Tu BiShvat is a
Hebrew Date: the 15th Day of the month of Shvat. In Hebrew
alphabet numerology, the letter Yud stands for 10, so for
example 11 is Yud-Aleph; 15, however, is not Yud-Heh because
that would form one of the names of HaShem. Thus 15 is formed
from Tet (9) & Vav (6).