By Rabbi Ariel Platt
After our first snow day in two years last week, it is hard to believe that Tu BiShevat (15th of Shevat), the birthday of the trees and the holiday that marks the beginning of Spring in Israel, is today.
In Judaism we mark time in a variety of ways most often with a combination of holidays, rituals, and blessings. It is our way of making the moments of our lives more intentional and special. In honor of Tu BiShevat, I want to share with you the blessing we say when we see the first flowering of a fruit tree (see below).
Blessing for First Flowering of a Fruit Tree:
In a world that is currently filled with darkness, this blessing can act as an important reminder that Spring is coming. That there is beauty to look forward to. Even though we won’t use the blessing for a while, we can acknowledge the power of trees to teach us every year about death and rebirth. Today when we look outside, the trees look like trunks and branches, no beautiful rich green leaves. However, the sap in the trees holds pure potential, constantly moving around preparing the tree for rebirth even though we can’t see it. Winter does not last forever, and there will always be the hope of Spring to guide us when we feel lost in the cold.
Another important fact about trees is that under the ground the roots of trees form communities that communicate, share nutrients and resources to support each other. So too our community, when it is dark and cold, must prioritize communication and care for one another. These are dark days and the more we can truly see and acknowledge each other, the better we will work together, truly modeling sacred community.
Today as the rain falls, and the snow melts away, let Tu BiShevat put a spring in your step, and remember there will be beautiful things blossoming.
Chag Sameach! Happy Tu BiShevat!
Check out these links for more information:
PJ Library – pjlibrary.org/tubshevat
My Jewish Learning – myjewishlearning.com/article/tu-bishvat-ideas-beliefs
Exploring Judaism – exploringjudaism.org/holidays/tu-bishvat