Originally, Tu B’shvat — Hebrew for the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat — was designated as the time when tree owners would offer tithes from the fruit trees of Israel. Its earliest source refers to it as the New Year of the Trees.

Later mystics attributed spiritual significance to this phrase, and a special ceremony modeled after the Passover Seder evolved. Traditionally, the Tu B’shvat seder includes the seven biblical species that are connected with the land of Israel, and, like the Passover Seder, it is structured around four cups of wine. Each section deals with four different types of worlds exemplified by the seven species. There is the world of action, the world of formation, the world of creation, and the world of transcendence.

More recently, the Seders have included a particular sensitivity to the environment, and Tu B’shvat has often been referred to as an eco-Zionist holiday.

Introduction written for Religion News Service by Rabbi Avi Weinstein, Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy, Overland Park, Kan.

Click on any photo below to view slideshow. Religion News Service photos by Sally Morrow

Categories: Beliefs

Sally Morrow

Sally Morrow

Sally Morrow joined Religion News Service in March 2012 as Photo/Multimedia Editor. She is a photographer and editor based in Kansas City, Mo. Morrow has worked as a multimedia editor and photographer at Newsday, The Des Moines Register, and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments with many links may be automatically held for moderation.