This Thursday, January 20, will be Chamisha Assar B'Shevat, known also as Tu B-Shevat. (Both names signify the fifteenth day of the month of Shevat.) The first mishnah in the tractate of Rosh Hashanah lists this festival as the “New Year of the Tree.”
We mark this day by refraining from reciting the somber prayer of Tachanun and by eating the fruits of trees which are grown in Israel, such as dates, figs, oranges, etc.
One important lesson to be learned from Tu B-Shevat is that, just as we have a Rosh Hashanah in the month of Tishrei, so too each tree, as well as all of Nature, is under divine jurisdiction.
The very engaging story is told of an old man who was busily planting an oak tree. A youngster approached him and immediately began to ridicule him. “You foolish old man,” the boy jeered. “It takes seventy years for a tree like this to mature. At your age, do you think that you will ever get to benefit from it? What a waste of time for you!”
The old man smiled. “My boy, you have a great deal to learn. Just look around you and see all the beautiful trees that we are enjoying. Who do you think planted them? It was people just like us, who lived even before we were born. They thought of us and gave us so many blessings. Should we not do the same for those who will come after us?”
Herein lies a powerful message of Tu B-Shevat. We should always look over our shoulders in gratitude to those who planted beautiful physical and spiritual trees for our benefit and enjoyment, as we learn from them. Now it is up to us to plant similar trees and provide inspiration for those who will follow us.
“A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL OUR TREES!!”
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