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Jewish Culture

What is Tu Bi’shvat?

Moshe Unger
Posted 1/27/23

There is a minor holiday in the Jewish Calendar called Tu Bishvat. This year it comes out to be on Monday, February 6. It is not a kind of holiday that work is not done nor is special clothing being …

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Jewish Culture

What is Tu Bi’shvat?


There is a minor holiday in the Jewish Calendar called Tu Bishvat. This year it comes out to be on Monday, February 6. It is not a kind of holiday that work is not done nor is special clothing being worn. It is marked by eating fruits. I’ll explain it here in more detail.

In biblical law there is the known Mitzva (commandment) of giving tithes of the annual produce of the fields. There is a law in this Mitzva that one may not allocate the tithes from one year to the other. Meaning, one needs to take off the tithes from each year and not give double of the produce from last year for this year’s produce or vice versa. Because there is a cut off line of every year, the question becomes, when is the beginning of the year? The yearly cut off must be at a point that marks the end and the beginning of the agricultural cycle.

At first glance, we would think that spring is the beginning of the year for trees. That’s when they start to grow flowers which eventually become fruit. However, our sages say that Tu Bishvat, which is about 45 days before Spring starts, is the cut off time.

Why? They explain that on this date the sap inside the tree starts to come up from the ground and the trees start to warm up in preparation of the spring. This is the basic reason for this date and that’s why we eat fruits to mark the day. 

Like everything in the world there is always something deeper and something to learn from and be inspired. This day and the concept of the sap rising has a strong message.

When we look around during the winter, we see all the trees are bare. The world is sleeping and frozen. Imagine a person has seen only this part of the year and has never seen spring, summer, or fall, they would never have imagined what a transformation the world is going to see in just two months away. 

We change presidents once in four years or one in eight years. Even technology, as fast as it is, new concepts and tools still take time to take hold within society. However, we witness every year such transformative change from winter to spring that is absolutely mindboggling. The only reason we don’t go out of our minds is because we are used to it every year!

Our sages teach us that not only when the trees start to blossom is the time to celebrate the fruit of the trees, even when the trees are bare and frozen cold, we could see the hope and start feeling the warmth just by have the hope of transformation. This little trickle of sap will eventually bring about a transformation of unimaginable proportions.

The same is with our lives. We go through periods that are exactly like the seasons of the year. There is Summer but there is also Winter. Winters can be difficult and cold. We can feel alone and forsaken. It can be in relationships or even in ones own view of themselves. Many times, a person feels worthless within themselves to themselves. 

In those times, the more we can remember that Spring will eventually come we will start to feel better and it will be a beginning of our healing. Knowing that better times will come is the sap of the tree that brings us back to blossom. Many times, circumstances will change for the better. However, sometimes the circumstances don’t change but we find within ourselves ways to cope with difficult circumstances and that makes us blossom again. This is also a G-d gifted mechanism and can be just as exciting as when circumstances change.

When we feel very bad and very down, promise yourself that you will feel better in the very near future; it is 100% true!

Let me know your thoughts…

Email me: moshe@mosheunger.com


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