The Tabernacle Times
January 2016                             Tevet - Shevat 5776                         Volume 11 Issue 1

Tu Bi’Shevat

Rabbi & Brenda
Rabbi Jeremy
Brenda Storch
  The Tu Bi’Shevat holiday (January 25h this year) is the time when we reaffirm the strong tie between the people of Israel and the Land of Israel. The love of the Land and of the mitzvot (commandments) concerning it is the main theme of the day. It is a celebration of cultivating the land and appreciating nature’s floral gifts and love of trees, whose deep roots symbolize the roots of the people deep in the soil of the Land.

In recent years, the Tu Bi’Shevat Seder has become very popular. Modeled after the Pesach Seder, it consists of a creative ritual that is geared to Tu Bi’Shevat.

In recent years, the Tu Bi’Shevat Seder has become very popular. Modeled after the Pesach Seder, it consists of a creative ritual that is geared to Tu Bi’Shevat.

In Israel, it is customary for school children to visit a nearby Jewish National Fund Forest to plant trees. In recent years, JNF established the Children’s Forest in the Galilee which honors Israeli children and Diaspora children and hallows the memory of more than one million children who died in the Holocaust.
The holiday originated in the Land of Israel, and most of the customs associated with it developed there as well. When the Jews were exiled, they took the Tu Bi’Shevat celebration along with them - a bit of Eretz Yisrael; its fruit and trees accompanying them on their wanderings.

Each year on this day, the fruit of the Land of Israel found its way to the tables of Jewish households all over the world; raisins and almonds, nuts and dates, figs and prunes. Every dark corner of the diaspora was thus treated to a ray of light from the skies of the Land of Israel. The sweetness of the fruit eased the bitterness of life in the diaspora and reminded the Jews that the Land of Israel was waiting for its children to return.

An important practice on Tu Bi’Shevat is the planting of trees in the Land of Israel, and the custom was renewed with the return of the Jews to the Land. In the generation of the Return to Zion, the holiday took on a new dimension and became a day of planting as well, as it is written in the Torah: "And when you come to the Land, plant all manner of fruit trees…" (Leviticus 19:23). Just as when the people of Israel were preparing to enter the Land after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. This is a commandment which is meant to strengthen the tie between the people and their Land. After the people of Israel settled in the land of their inheritance, they began tilling the soil. The importance of trees in many aspects of everyday life became even more apparent.

The act of planting a tree represents an investment in the future. When a tree is planted, a confirmation is made in the belief that there will be a future for our children, and that they will reap the fruit of this generation’s labor. More than thirty different kinds of trees are named in the Bible: In addition to the majestic Cedars of Lebanon extolled in the First Covenant (Tenach) as building material for Solomon's Temple, there are also the Olive Tree and Fig Tree emphasized in the Brit HaDasha (New Covenant).
                (Continued Top Next Column)

Tu Bi’Sheva
Photo by: Angela Brown of ancient olive trees in Hebron

Since the establishment of the State of Israel, reforestation has been handled by the Jewish National Fund. Thousands of dunams of forests have been planted. The JNF has been the central fund of the Zionist movement, which since 1905 has been acquiring land in Israel and preparing it for settlement and afforestation.

On Tu Bi’Shevat in 1949 the JNF planted the Defenders’ Forest as a memorial to the fallen of the War of Independence. David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, was given the honor of planting the first sapling. That was also the day when the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) was first opened. Since then, the Knesset’s anniversary is celebrated every year on Tu Bi’Shevat.

As we have learned, an important practice on Tu Bi'Shevat is the planting of trees in the Land of Israel. Since Yeshua (Jesus) is the true "tree of Life" we continue this tradition today and give the gift of trees planted in Israel for births, deaths, bar/bat mitzvah and weddings. If you would like more information about Tu Bi'Shevat or to plant a tree in Israel please contact us at

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