Glimpses - The New Year of Trees


Tu B'Shevat (the fifteenth day of the month Shevat) is the New Year for the trees, according to the Hebrew calendar. It is a celebration of the Creator's goodness -- an expression of thankfulness for His provision and faithfulness.

Nowhere is this more prominent than in the Land of Israel. Consider, the fruitfulness of the land where once, not so long ago, there were sand dunes and marsh, and today, the Land of Israel radiates with the glory of God.

"But you, O mountains of Israel, you shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to My people Israel, for they are about to come." (Ezekiel 36:8)

Trees are important. God instructed His people that newly-planted trees in particular were to be given time to grow and be established. In the first three years, the fruit was not to be eaten.

"When you come into the land, and have planted all kinds of trees for food, then you shall count their fruit as uncircumcised. Three years it shall be uncircumcised to you. It shall not be eaten. But in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, a praise to the LORD. And in the fifth year you may eat its fruit, that it may yield its increase: I am the LORD your God." (Leviticus 19:23-25)

Tu b'Shevat is also linked to the Temple, the House of God in Jerusalem, and its services, because it is from this date (Tu B'Shevat) that the tithe from the fruit-producing trees is determined.

"You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year. And you shall eat before the LORD your God, in the place where He chooses to make His Name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of the flocks, that you may learn to fear the LORD always." (Deuteronomy 14:22-23)

This year Tu B'Shevat falls on 9th February 2009.

Mark Warren