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On Tuesday night/Wednesday it will be Tu B'Shevat (The 15th of the Jewish month of Shevat) which is also known as new year (Rosh Hashanah) for the trees. This day is called Rosh Hashanah of the trees, because it’s the beginning of the year regarding maasros (tithes) that one is required to separate from the fruits of the trees. The tithes differ from year to year. In the first, second, fourth and fifth years counting from shmita (the year when working the land and doing business with the produce is prohibited by the Torah) one is required to separate maser sheni that is eaten in Jerusalem and in the other years the maaser is given to the poor.

 

Although Tu B'Shevat is not considered a holy day and there is no prohibition of work, there is still a festive mood about it. Tachanun is not said and also eulogies are not made. One reason for this is that since Tu B'Shevat is a Rosh Hashanah for the trees, it is a time for prayer and judgment for the trees. This is the way that Hashem rules the world: As each of His creations begins to grow he surveys its entire future and it is therefore appropriate to pray for success at such a time. Moreover the Torah compares man to a tree, thus the day recalls in a sense, the Divine judgment upon man as well.

So, since the Jewish people rejoice on a day of judgment, whatever the outcome is Tu B'Shevat is celebrated as festive day and some even conduct a seder which includes the seven species which Israel is praised for in the Torah (figs, dates, pomegranates, olives, grapes, & wheat/barley), as well as nuts and wine.

 

However, you decide to celebrate just try to take a moment and appreciate the trees and plants around us that we so often take for granted.

(Adapted from The Book Of Our Heritage by Eliyahu Kitov)

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