Monday, February 9, 2009

Happy New Year again. This time, to trees!

15 Shvat

Before there was Earth Day and everyone was going green, the Jewish people established the feast of Tu B'Shvat. This is the New Year of the Trees! Yet another opportunity to praise and thank God for these marvelous creations.

Torah prohibits injuring, let alone destroying trees, which makes sense given the Israelites' history of desert wandering. Check out Chapter 8 in Deuteronomy which, please note, includes the first mention that we "do not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord " (Deuteronomy 8:3).

Food is, of course, involved. In addition to planting and blessing trees, this holiday includes the custom of blessing and eating the seven species at a festive meal:
  1. wheat (chitah)
  2. barley (se'orah)
  3. grapes (gefen)
  4. fig (te'enah)
  5. pomegranate (rimon)
  6. olive (zayit)
  7. date (tamar)
Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the Universe who has not omitted anything in His world, but has created in it goodly creatures and goodly trees, to give delight through them to the children of man.

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