What is Tu B’Shvat?  I thought it was the celebration of the trees?  Well, it’s much more than that…

It began as one of the 4 “New Years” mentioned in Talmud Rosh Hashanah, the new year of the TREES, “There are four new years… the first of Shevat is the new year for trees according to the ruling of Beit Shammai; Beit Hillel, however, places it on the fifteenth of that month.” –Mishnah Rosh Hashanah 1:1… this was for the purpose of calculating how old a fruit tree is because one is forbidden to eat the fruit from a tree until after four full years have past, “When you come to the land and you plant any tree, you shall treat its fruit as forbidden; for three years it will be forbidden and not eaten. In the fourth year, all of its fruit shall be sanctified to praise the L-RD. In the fifth year, you may eat its fruit.” -Leviticus 19:23-25

In the 16th century the Kabbalists in Tsfat took Tu B’Shvat up a notch by creating a mystical “seder” (order), a ritual similar to that of Passover’s including 4 cups of wine and 3 different types of fruits… An inner journey through the four kabbalistic worlds:

1st Cup- white wine- symbolizing pure potential
1st Fruits- those with an outer shell and edible fruit inside (orange, walnut, banana)- symbolizing external, surface layer or general blockages/barriers to embodying one’s highest self
1st World-  Asiyah- Action

2nd Cup- white wine with a drop of red- symbolizing potential beginning to be actualized
2nd Fruit- soft edible outside, seeds, core or pit on the inside dates, olives, apples)- symbolizing our personal blocks, our core issue(s) at the center of our struggle to wake up
2nd World- B’riyah- Creation

3rd Cup- a little bit of white, but mostly red- symbolizing potential almost completely actualized
3rd Fruit- completely edible (figs, blueberries, strawberries)- symbolizing barriers no longer keeping us from our goals, instant karma
3rd World- Yetzirah- Formation

4th Cup- All red- symbolizing complete actualization- full enlightenment
4th “Fruit”- smelling scents- specifically the etrog- symbolizing the world beyond physical manifestation- subtle realm
4th World- Atzilut- Emanation

The seder on Tu B’Shvat can be seen and experienced in many different ways… One of the main kabbalistic  ways it has been understood is as a tikkun (repair/fixing) of the “original sin” – The sin of Adam and Eve eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (further explained in Tu B’shvat Teachings post: “Tu B’Shvat: Celebrating Pleasure” )

Another is as a deep personal journey of seeing and removing the inner blocks to higher and enlightened self.

An, yet another, as a celebration of nature and our connection to the trees and earth.

Lear more about Tu B’Shvat in our Tu B’Shvat Teachings posts.

Tu B’Shevat will occur on the following days of the secular calendar:

  • Jewish Year 5772: sunset February 7, 2012 – nightfall February 8, 2012
  • Jewish Year 5773: sunset January 25, 2013 – nightfall January 26, 2013
  • Jewish Year 5774: sunset January 15, 2014 – nightfall January 16, 2014
  • Jewish Year 5775: sunset February 3, 2015 – nightfall February 4, 2015

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