Tu B’Shvat – The New Year for the Trees
ט”ו שבט / February 13, 2025
WHAT IS TU B’SHVAT?
The 15th of Shvat on the Jewish calendar marks the beginning of the “New Year” for trees. Commonly known as Tu B’Shvat, this day marks the season when the trees in Eretz Yisroel awake from their winter slumber and begin a new fruit-bearing cycle.
Tu B’Shvat is celebrated by eating fruits, particularly from the shivas haminim – the seven unique fruits that are singled out in the Torah for their praise and bounty in the land of Eretz Yisroel: חיטה – wheat, שעורה – barley, גפן – grapes, תאנה – fig, רימון – pomegranate, זית – olive, דבש/תמר – date (honey). If tasting fruit for the first time this season, one recites the bracha of Shehecheyanu (a blessing designated for joyous occasions, thanking Hashem for “sustaining us and enabling us to reach this occasion.) The bracha Shehecheyanu is recited before the standard “Ha’etz” bracha is recited on fruit.
THE SHIVAS HAMINIM – שבעת המינים
The Seven Blessed Fruits of the Land
Generally, the Shivas Haminim can be split into two types: 1) grain, and 2) fruit from trees. Grain is necessary for sustenance. Fruits add pleasure to life. Both are important, and therefore, both are included in the blessing for the land of Eretz Yisroel.
From the seven species, we celebrate the five fruits that grow on trees (pleasure) even more than the grains (necessity.) This lesson imparts that even when a person is in the early stages of spiritual growth (at the level of trees and all growing things), he must set a goal of serving Hashem “בכל נפשך ובכל מאדך” with all your soul and all your might – which includes the attributes of desires and pleasures. For a Yid’s “Avodas Hashem” – serving Hashem can only be truly complete if it’s done with true pleasure.
PLANT GOOD SEEDS – WITH GOOD DEEDS
Tu B’Shvat teaches us that, from the start, our intentions must be to serve Hashem with all seven Divine attributes – each of the seven fruits corresponds to the seven Middos – attributes of Hashem.
It says,” דברים כ:יט) “כי האדם עץ השדה) “Man is a tree of the field.” Every soul possesses all seven of these attributes. But one trait is more dominant for each person, shaping the individual’s unique path in serving Hashem.
חיטה – Wheat
Kindness – חסד
תאנה – Figs
Perserverance – נצח
שעורה – Barley
Severity – גבורה
רימון – Pomegranate
Humility – הוד
תמר – Dates
Royalty – מלכות
גפן – Grapes
Harmony – תפארת
זית – Olives
Foundation – יסוד
TU B’SHVAT SEGULOS – MERITS
TU B’SHVAT IN BELZ
A Yom Tov in the “Vochen”
Tu B’Shvat is celebrated as a Yom Tov in ‘Der Vochen’ – weekday. The Belzer Rav shlita wears a ‘Kolpik’ (High Rabbinic shtreimal) and conducts a beautiful Tu B’Shvat tish during the day.
Tu B’Shvat Tish
The tish – Rav’s table is laden with a vast assortment of fruit, including each of the shivas haminim – grown explicitly in Eretz Yisroel. A bracha ha’etz is made on the date and includes all the fruits.
At the tish, herring is dipped in pure olive oil – שמן זית – which is one of the shivas haminim. Challah is eaten for the חיטה wheat, and beer is served for the שעורה – barley.
The minhag is to eat ‘אתרוג איינגעמאכטס’ – esrog jelly. The Sar Shalom of Belz zt’’l ruled that the bracha Shehecheyanu is not recited when eating esrog jam since the bracha was already made during the Yom Tov Sukkkos when shaking the lulav and esrog.
A special compote made of various fruits is eaten at the beginning of the meal, following Hamotzi. It doesn’t require a separate bracha since it’s part of the meal’s course.
STORIES FOR TU B’SHVAT
Esrog for Tu B’Shvat
R’ Noach Langsam shlita from New York had the merit to be present for the Yomim Tovim by Maran Reb Aharon of Belz zt’’l in Eretz Yisroel. After Sukkos, he received an Esrog from Reb Aharon that was used as a נוי סוכה – Sukkah decoration in Rebbe’s Sukkah. R’ Noach asked what he should do with the esrog, and Rebbe Aharon replied: קענסט מאכן דערפון ‘איינגגעמאכטס’ און עסן חמשה עשר בשבט, אדער דאס אוועקלייגן פאר א שמירה און שטיב” – You can make esrog jam and eat it on Chamisha Asar B’Shvat or keep it as safekeeping in your home.” R’ Noach chose the latter.
Merit to See Fruit
During WWI, Rebbe Duvid’l Lelover zt’l conducted a Tu B’Shvat tish laden with Shivas Haminim from Eretz Yisroel. No one came to the tish due to the war and a plague that was rampant at the time. Reb Duvid’l sat locked in his room when suddenly the door opened and a little boy from one of his Chassidim rushed inside. He told Reb Duvid’l that his whole family was gravely ill from the plague, and they were on the verge of dying.
Rebbe Duvid’l burst out crying, “Ribbono Shel Olam! My joy over this Yom Tov today was destroyed. Say enough to our tzaros – pain!”
Rebbe Duvid’l turned to the child, took a piece of fruit from the basket on the table, and handed it to the child, saying: “Take it home with you. I’m sure that in the merit of Tu B’Shvat fruit, your father will merit to see fruit!”
The plague disappeared from the Chassid’s home, and everyone’s health improved. The Chassid lived to see lots of nachas from this son.
Pineapple in Eretz Yisroel
The Shinover Rav zt’’l once ate fruit on Tu B’Shvat with his chassidim. Between the variety of fruits at the table was also pineapple, which doesn’t grow in all countries. One of his Chassidim asked if pineapple also grows in Eretz Yisroel. The Shinover Rav exclaimed, “If the Torah says that “לא תחסר כל בה” – You will lack nothing in Eretz Yisroel – how can you dare ask such a question?”
The Holiness of Turkish Nuts
A Chassid brought Turkish nuts to the Beis Aharon of Karlin zt’’l in Yerushalayim, which he had purchased in Eretz Yisroel. (In those times, nuts didn’t grow in Eretz Yisroel.) The Rebbe thanked him for the nuts and opened a nut to make a bracha. The peel fell to the floor, and the Rebbe bent down to pick it up and said, “A fruit that passed through Eretz Yisroel has the holiness of Eretz Yisroel. One has to treasure the holiness of the peel, too!”