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The fifteenth of the month of Sh'vat, popularly called "Tu Bish'vat", is a minor but well-known Jewish holiday, the New Year for trees. (See Mishnah Rosh Hashanah 1:1) The original significance of this date is connected to the Torah's agricultural laws, for the purposes of which a "fiscal year" for produce had to be defined; fruit which had appeared in bud form before the 15 of Sh'vat was counted with one year's crop, and fruit from later trees was counted with the next year's crop.

The popular significance of Tu Bish'vat, however, ranges far from this original meaning. Through the imagery of the tree of life, Tu Bish'vat became an occasion for celebrating the flow of God's blessings to earth. The Jewish mystics devised a Tu Bish'vat seder, patterned on the Passover seder, to convey this idea. The original plan for the Tu Bish’vat seder appeared in the book P’ri Etz Hadar, first published in Venice in 1728.

Tu Bish'vat may also be seen as an environmental festival, as we remember the importance of trees and our natural environment generally. In the 20th century, Tu Bish'vat became known as the special holiday of the Jewish National Fund, which has purchased and hold large tracts of land in Eretz Yisrael on behalf of the Jewish people as a whole, and which engages in important reforestation and reclamation work, and the preparation of land for new settlements.




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