Beit Midrash

  • Shabbat and Holidays
  • Tu Bishvat
To dedicate this lesson

The Torah study is dedicated in the memory of

Rabbi David b"r Avraham Levi Melamed

Tu B'shvat-The Beginning of Renewal

The holiday of the trees in 15th of Shevat, according to the other new years.


Rabbi Shimon Klein

Shvat 5757
"The four New Years are... The First of Tishrei is the New Year for the calendar year, the Shmita year (fallow year) and the Jubilee, as well as for planting and for vegetables. The first of Shevat is the New Year for trees, according to Beit Shammai. Beit Hillel holds that this New Year falls on the 15th of Shevat."

Question: Why did our sages establish the 1st of Tishrei as the New Year for planting, and the 15th of Shevat as the New Year for trees? Why designate two different days?
The Gemarah in Rosh Hashanah states, "The 1st of Shevat is the New Year for trees. What is the reason for this?" Rabbi Oshea attributes this date to be the New Year for trees because "most of the rain has fallen." The Meiri explains that the 15th of Shevat falls exactly in the middle of the winter period, which continues until the 1st of the month of Nisan. At that point, half of the winter has passed and "its power has been weakened, the coldness that was prevalent before is not as strong, and the ripening of the fruits continues and succeeds." The spring draws close and the tree steadily marches towards it final goal- to give forth its fruit. Until now it was a tree that was receiving, and now it is changed to a tree that gives of its fruits. The tree begins to reveal its hidden qualities and move from its potential state to its active state.

On the first of Tishrei, after the summer, the land is dry and withdraws within itself, thus not allowing itself to be "exploited." In contrast, on the first of Nisan, Spring arrives and the forces of nature are renewed. Everything in the plant and animal world renews itself and begins to flourish. Nissan is also the month in which the nation of Israel was born.

The holiday of the trees, which falls in the middle of the winter period, toward the month of Nisan, symbolizes the beginning of the awakening of potential growth. The 15th of Shevat represents the period prior to the beginning of the movement from potential to actual, which reaches its peak in the month of Nisan.

Hashem created the world, according to the opinion of Rabbi Eliezar, on the first of Tishrei, although only in the month of Nisan are all the hidden forces of the world revealed: the forces of nature and the land, as well as spiritual and metaphysical forces. Therefore, the 1st of Tishrei was established as the New Year for planting, far from the day in which the trees will actually give its fruit, and the 15th of Shevat as the New Year for the Trees , when the beginning of the stirring of the forces of the land in Israel bring forth its holy fruits. It is not by accident that fruits that were forbidden to be eaten from the moment of planting become permissible on the 15th of Shevat. In their first years of planting the fruits belong to the world above (like a form of engagement), and then they descend to the ordinary world. It is desirable that our first meeting with these fruits occurs on the 15th of Shevat, as this day represents the beginning of the descent to our world, the mundane world, of all the forces that exist.

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