The 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shvat is “T”u Bishvat” (Jewish Arbor Day). The Sages have noted that T”u Bishvat is New Year’s Day for Trees. In Israel and the Mediterranean basin, the rainy season reaches its peak around the time of the holiday.
It’s a reasonable question to ask: Why do we celebrate a holiday for trees?
Well, it is a wonderful opportunity to express our thanks for the wonderful flowers and fruit that the trees produce. The Torah itself brings comparisons between human kind and the plant world. In Deuteronomy it is written, “For man is like a tree of the field” (20:19). The Torah celebrates the fruitful bounty of the Land of Israel: “It is a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey” (Deuteronomy, 8:8).
Estimable T”u Bishvat customs include:
- Eating fruits together in a family setting, sometimes in the framework of a T”u Bishvat seder, modeled after the Passover Seder
- Hiking in nature and enjoying the beauty of the flora of the Land of Israel