Bishvat 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
* Fruits of the World of Creation (God's): fruits we can
eat in full, i.e. figs.
* Fruits of the World of Creativity (humans): those we
eat in majority, and plant their seeds for its
reproduction - such as apples.
* Fruits of 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 live
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.
Tu Bishvat Sameach!
RABBI CARLOS TAPIERO
Deputy Director-General & Director of Education
Maccabi World Union
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).