Kfar Maccabiah, February, 2015
TuBishvat- Creation & Revelation
One of the most colorful of Tu Bishvat customs, the New
Year of Trees, is its "Seder Tu Bishvat" (similar to the
Passover Seder), a dinner specially designed to celebrate nature
in general, and the Land of Israel and its fruits in particular.
White wines - representing the cold winter - and red ones - the
heat of summer - adorn the tables together with fruits and
grains like wheat, apples, dates, olives, figs, pomegranates,
almonds, pears, walnuts and more. It is a feast of the fruits of
the Earth; the recognition of the blessing of life that arises
from both the partnership between God and man on one hand, and
simple Divine generosity on the other. At the family reunion
around a festive table in which Talmudic and Kabbalistic stories
and explanations are told, Tu Bishvat becomes a dialogue between
the interior of the home and the majesty of Creation, of Nature,
of Israel and its landscapes. The subjects of this meal are the
meaning of the fruits, the link between the People of Israel and
our ancient homeland - the Land of Israel - and the common
denominator that gives significance and the Pole Star of Jewish
national identity: the Torah.
The Seder Tu Bishvat began in the Middle Ages' passion for
Jewish mysticism (centered then in the city of Tzfat, Safed, in
the Galilee). The order of the family dinner has countless
versions, each community free to choose texts for their
celebration. Amongst the different stories, there is one that
provides the common thread between the Creator, Creation, His
Revelation, and our due appreciation for the world God entrusts
to our work and care. Explaining figs as both a fruit of the
Land of Israel and of Paradise, the Midrash
associates them with the Living Word of God:
"Why is Torah compared to a fig tree? Because most trees,
like olives, grapes anddates, have their fruit picked at one
time. But the fig tree is picked gradually. So it is withTorah.
One learns a little today...and most of it later. It is not
learned in only one year, oreven in many years. "
Tu Bishvat, then, transcends the framework of ecological
celebration - so important to our survival on this planet. It
fills that celebration with a supreme content, dressing the
family table for a gala that links all the wonder of existence,
of complete Divine Creation:
- the whole Cosmos,
- the Earth, and our Land - the Land of Israel,
- His Word - Revelation: the Torah.
Tu Bishvat is awareness of life, of Creation, of
interdependence; of a People reborn and recreated in our
recovered Land - a Land celebrated in the green landscapes of
our old-new Israel, in its forests, pastures and meadows.
May we celebrate the life of the world in which we live,
recognizing the ultimate meaning of Creation, the deep,
intrinsic communion between the Creator and all things created.
May we be able to feel our deepest connection to the
miracle of the Land of Israel and the State which was reborn in
And may we take very good care of our world, conserving
and returning some of the splendour that it gives to us every
Tu Bishvat Sameach!
RABBI CARLOS TAPIERO
Deputy Director-General & Director of Education
Maccabi World Union
The name Tu
BiShvat is a Hebrew Date: the 15th Day of the month of
Shvat. In Hebrew alphabet numerology, the letter
Yud stands for 10, so for example 11 is Yud-Aleph; 15,
however, is not Yud-Heh because that would form one of
the names of HaShem. Thus 15 is formed from Tet
(9) & Vav (6).