TU B’SHEVAT HISTORY AND ORIGIN

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Tu B’Shevat was basically denoted to in 515 BCE to 20 CE when it was the deadline date for collecting and imposing the tenth part on the harvest of fruit trees. During the 1930s, when Jewish settlers reverted to Palestine, they repossessed the desolate and uninhabited land by planting trees wherever they could. Until planting a tree for every new born baby has become a customary for them– a cypress or pine tree for a girl and a cedar tree for a boy.

According to Mishnah ( Code of Jewish Law)

It was first mentioned in the Mishnah which speaks about the ancient cycle of tithes where each year the Jews are anticipated to bring one-tenth of their fruits to the temple in Jerusalem as a form of worship to God who gave them the bountiful harvest. Tu B’Shevat was chosen by the Rabbis as an endpoint to determine when a crop year would start. 

Tu B’Shevat  is also known as the year of calculating the age of the trees for the purpose of tithing as which was written in Leviticus 19:23-25, “When you entered the land and plant any kind of fruit tree, don’t eat the fruit for three years, consider it inedible. By the fourth year, its fruit is holy, an offering of praise to God. Beginning in the fifth year, you can eat its fruit; you’ll have richer harvest this way.”

During the Sixteenth Century

Seven symbolical fruits that are local from Israel were eaten and four cups of wine with varying percentage of red and white were drunk. These fruits which are praised and recognized in Torah ( Five Books of Moses)  are pomegranates, dates, figs, olives, grapes, wheat and barley.

Modern Times

In 1948, when the Independent State of Israel was established, the Jews regarded it as the fulfilment of what they believed that God will gather again those who were scattered abroad. As a symbol, when they came back to their land, they plant trees and develop reforestation. Planting of trees and farming during Tu B’Shevat ultimately became a national custom up to this day. Planting of trees have become a symbol for the rebirth of the Jewish homeland after the long years of being scattered to other parts of the world.

Today, even Israeli school children are taught to plant trees in special ceremonies and the Jews living outside the land of Israel or in the Diaspora donate money to plant trees in their country for the purpose of beautification and to prevent pollution.

According to Talmud, the significant collection of the Jewish oral tradition that interprets the Torah, Tu B’Shevat signifies that by celebrating of the presence of the trees in the lives of the Jews and planting it, they are working together with God in tending His garden which is His original purpose for all mankind.

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