With the coming of the New Year, Jews can look forward to celebrating the Jewish holiday of Tu BiShvat which falls on January 31 of 2018. In ancient times, Tu BiShvat was connected to the Jewish custom of tithing the first fruits of the land to help the poor. Over the years, the holiday has evolved somewhat, although it still retains its roots of caring for others and the world around us. Understanding the manifestations of this holiday can give greater meaning to your celebrations.
Types of Tu BiShvat
Over the years, Tu BiShvat has been commemorated in the following ways:
- The 15th of Shvat of the Sages
- The 15th of Shvat of the Kabbalists
- The Tu BiShvat of the Zionists and
- The Tu BiShvat of the Environmentalist
15th of Shvat of the Sages
The 15th of Shvat of the Sages emphasized the need for social restoration. In ancient times, social restoration could be accomplished through tithing, gifts, and gleanings. Jewish farmers were expected to separate a tenth of their harvest as a “tax” to give to their priests and the poor. In so doing, they were helping to restore social order by improving the lives of those in need. Today, Jews are encouraged to share a portion of the first fruits of their garden or harvest with others in commemoration of this holiday.
15th of Shvat of the Kabbalists
The Kabbalists believed the 15th of Shvat should be celebrated with a feast coupled with prayers to help restore the ground to its original state after Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden. God cursed the ground as punishment for Adam and Eve eating from the Tree of Knowledge. On this day, Kabbalists would gather to feast on native fruits and recite blessings and prayers to restore the earth (and man) to its perfect state.
Tu BiShvat of the Zionists
In the late 1800’s, Israeli students started the practice of planting trees on Tu BiShvat to help replenish the land. The custom quickly spread throughout Israel, and within a matter of years, Tu BiShvat became known as a tree-planting holiday. As Jewish people began to return to their homeland after WWII, Zionists began to transform deserts into fruitful farmlands, further expanding the concept of restoring the land. As such, many Jews consider Tu BiShvat of the Zionists the equivalent of Arbor Day.
Tu BiShvat of the Environmentalists
This holiday focuses on ecology and restoration of the planet. Jews who are concerned about the environment celebrate this day by promoting environmental awareness. The focus on the environment gives this Jewish holiday the same appeal as Earth Day.
Throughout Tu BiShvat’s varied history, there’s a common thread that links this holiday with the environment. Above all, Tu BiShvat outlines the importance of caring for God’s creation and sharing the blessings of the fruits of the land with others.
At Beverly Hills Carmel, we take great pride in celebrating Jewish holidays with our residents. As a Jewish community, we recognize the importance of preserving our Jewish heritage. For more information about our facility, call 310-278-8323 today.