Tu Bishvat, the Birthday of the Trees

Today Tu Bishvat is looked upon as an opportunity to teach the next generation about ecology, the environment and stewardship for the gifts God has given us.  The holiday is celebrated in a congregational setting.  In addition to planting trees there is also a seder meal similar to the seder celebrated at Passover.   https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/tu-bishvat-practices/   

Today Tu Bishvat is looked upon as an opportunity to teach the next generation about ecology, the environment and stewardship for the gifts God has given us.  The holiday is celebrated in a congregational setting.  In addition to planting trees there is also a seder meal similar to the seder celebrated at Passover.  https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/tu-bishvat-practices/  

I have always been fascinated by the Jewish faith with its complicated fusion of laws, rituals and sacrifices.  The whole methodology of knowing what is required with set procedures and times has to give the participant a level of peace and security.  It is not so much following the letter of the law but performing the task given to us because God loves us.  This how we show our love in return.

The stewardship of the earth, and a foundation for Tu Bishvat, goes back to the Jewish teachings (midrash), “When God led Adam around the Garden of Eden, God said, ‘Look at My works. See how beautiful they are, how excellent! For your sake I created them all. See to it that you do not spoil or destroy My world for if you do, there will be no one to repair it after you.” (Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:13) 

A fig tree on a hillside in Israel.  The tree stands 20 feet tall.  Each tree produces two crops.  The first crop is eaten.  The second crop is dried for the winter.  Deuteronomy 8 tells us to follow our Lord and he will lead us through the parched and barren land to a good land with springs flowing in the valleys.  This new land will be a land with five fruits and two grains.  The two grains are wheat and barley.  The five fruits are grapes, figs, olives, dates and pomegranates.  https://www.bibleplaces.com/fig-trees/

A fig tree on a hillside in Israel.  The tree stands 20 feet tall.  Each tree produces two crops.  The first crop is eaten.  The second crop is dried for the winter.  Deuteronomy 8 tells us to follow our Lord and he will lead us through the parched and barren land to a good land with springs flowing in the valleys.  This new land will be a land with five fruits and two grains.  The two grains are wheat and barley.  The five fruits are grapes, figs, olives, dates and pomegranates. https://www.bibleplaces.com/fig-trees/

The Tu Bishvat is a celebration of first fruits.  The first portion of fruit was picked from the tree and presented to the priest at the temple as a sacrifice to God.  After the offering the owner/tenant of he trees was allowed to pick the remaining fruit and sell or eat it they saw fit.

With the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE there was no longer a temple or priest to receive the offering and Tu Bishvat could have faded away.  In the 16 Century kabbalists (Jewish Mystics) revived the ritual as the celebration of the Feast of Fruits. 

Today the festival has become a teaching opportunity as the Jews of Israel reconnect with the land and their heritage learning and to the environment and stewardship of the land.