I was asked this morning what Jewish holiday it was.
“Tu B’Shevat,” I replied. “It’s the new year for trees. There are four new years in the Jewish calender — one for the nation, one for agriculture, one for royalty and one for trees.”
Apparently some kid took today off public school because he’s decided to observe all Jewish holidays.
From my email: Today is Tu B’Shevat (“the 15th of Shevat”) which marks the beginning of a “New Year for Trees.” This is the season in which the earliest-blooming trees in the Land of Israel emerge from their winter sleep and begin a new fruit-bearing cycle.
Legally, the “New Year for Trees” relates to the various tithes that must be separated from produce grown in the Holy Land. We mark the day by eating fruit, particularly from the “Seven Kinds” that are singled out by the Torah in its praise of the bounty of the Holy Land (wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates). On this day we remember that “Man is a tree of the field” (Deuteronomy 20:19) and reflect on the lessons we can derive from our botanical analogue.