9 February, 2017
"And you shall come to the Land, and you shall plant all kinds of edible trees..." Leviticus, 19:20
Tu B’Shevat, the 15th of Shevat on the Jewish calendar is also called "The New Year of the Trees" or, Rosh HaShanah La'Ilanot). According to the Torah fruits cannot be consumed from trees less than three years old, Tu B'Shvat was used as the starting date for determining the age of the trees.
We mark the day of Tu B’Shevat by eating fruit, particularly from the kinds that are singled out by the Torah in its praise of the bounty of the Holy Land: grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates.
We also celebrate along with the trees. After all, the Torah says, “Man is a tree of the field.” We are nurtured by deep roots, as far back as Abraham and Sarah; we reach upwards to the heavens while standing firmly on the ground; and when we do all this right, we produce fruits that benefit the world—namely, our good deeds.
When the Zichron Yaakov moshava was founded, educators in the Land of Israel felt a need to renew Jewish settlement in the country by planting trees. In 1892, on Tu BiShvat, writer, researcher andhistorian Zeev Yavetz, Principal of the Zichron Yaakov school went out to plant trees with his pupils, and a new tradition was born. The Teachers Union and KKL-JNF formalized the custom in 1908, and provided it with an extra educational dimension. In this way children were given the opportunity to play an active role in the development of the Land of Israel and the care of its landscape. Over a hundred years later, our WIZO children and youth along with their peers from all over the country continue to do so.
Wishing you a fruitful year starting on Tu B'Shevat.
President, World WIZO