“ When you enter the land and plant any tree for food, you shall regard its fruit as forbidden. Three years it shall be forbidden to you, not to be eaten. In the fourth year, all of its fruit shall be set aside for jubilation before the lord; and only in the fifth year shall you use its fruits- that its yield to you may be increased: I am the Lord your God”
“ All tithes from the land, whether seed from the ground or fruit from the tree, are the Lord’s; they are holy to the Lord.” -Vayikra 27:30
To commemorate the mitzvah of orlah, and recount the times of giving tithes
The first recorded Tu B'Shvat Seder appears in the booklet "Pri Etz Hadar" -The Fruit of the Goodly Tree. This Seder was based on the kabalistic ideas of tikkun olam (fixing the world) to correct the sin of Adam and Eve in eating the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge in Gan Eden. We maintain many of the Kabbalistic elements in our seder today.
“ For the Lord your God is bringing you into a god land, a land with streams and springs and fountains issuing from plain and hill; a land of wheat and barley, of vines, figs, and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey” -Devarim 8:7-8 AND Since we can no longer bring offerings of first fruits, we serve God by making blessings of enjoyment (brachot nehenin) over many different fruits
On Tu B’shevat we celebrate the trees that sustain us physically and spiritually. All parts of the tree, from its old, deep roots, to its tiny, young buds are interconnected and constantly enabling each other to grow. So too are living things of all generations interconnected and rely on each other to keep a balance in the world for growth and positive development
New trees grow on top of fallen trunks of old ones, benefiting from their stored nutrients
Th ere is hope for a tree; if it is cut down it will renew itself; its shoots will not cease. If its roots are old in the earth, and its stump dies in the ground, at the scent of water it will bud. And produce branches like a sapling. -Job 14:7-9 At your table, share your name and the part of the tree which best describes your relationship to the world
Assiyah - the first world, is the world of earth and action. In the world of Assiyah, we drink white wine and eat fruits with hard outer shells and soft insides. The white wine and fruit with shells symbolize the white winter season in which forms of life need extra protection from harsh weather.
Removing the hard shells exposes a fleshy vulnerable inside. Special effort is necessary to protect it from indifference, from being forgotten, from unkind influences. We crack the shells of the nuts and release the divine sparks for Tikkun Olam, healing of the world. We crack the shells of our own preoccupation and preconceived notions.
May it be Your Will, O Lord our God and God of our ancestors, that by virtue of our eating the fruits, which we shall eat and make blessings over now, and by our meditating on their mystical and spiritual meanings, the fruit trees be filled with the strength of Your abundant grace, to grow and to flourish from the beginning to the end of the year, for goodness and for blessing, for good life and for peace.
What shells or obstacles prohibit you from taking action on environmental problems? How can you break down those barriers or transform them for positive use? I went down to the nut grove to see the budding of the vale; to see if the vines had blssomed, if the pomegranates were in bloom -Shir Hashirim 6:11
Variations on the theme of the future A.D. Gordon
And it shall come to pass
O child of Adam
When you return to nature,
On that day you shall open your eyes,
And you shall peer directly
Into Nature’s eyes
And there you shall see
Your own image.
You shall know that you have returned to yourself,
For in hiding from Nature,
You hid from yourself.
And furthermore, you shall see, That from upon you, From upon your hands and feet, From upon your body and soul, Fragments are peeling and falling, Crumbling and falling. Heavy fragments, Hard, Oppressive; You straighten yourself, You stand up tall, You grow.
Yetzirah symbolizes spri ng an d the earth’s reawakening. The fruit for this world has no outer shell but has an inner pit that we don’t eat. The pit or seed is a means of regrowth. This regrowth teaches us to transform raw materials while being mindful of the processes that built them .
We acknowledge God as creator not only of the physical world but also of our ability to be creative and compassio nate. It is a world of emotion and renewal represented by water. In the world of Yetzirah, we drink white wine with a dash of red
No part of the palm tree is wasted; every part may be used: Its dates are for eating, its lulav branches are for waving in praise on Sukkot, it's dried up branches are thatch for roofing, and its fibers are for ropes, its leaves for sieves, and its planed trunks for house beams. So is it with the Jewish people: Every one of our people is needed. Some are knowledgeable in Tanach (Bible), others in Mishna, others in Agada (Talmudic legends); still others do many mitzvoth, and others do much charity. (Bamidbar Rabba 3:1)
Olives, a symbol of peace, remind us that aquiring a respect for creation by learning and working together to solve environmental problems contributes much to peace in the world
Tw o men were fighting over a piece of land. Each claimed ownership. To resolve their differences, they agreed to put the case before the rabbi. The rabbi listened but could not come to a decision. Finally, he said, "Since I cannot decide to whom this land belongs, let us ask the land." He put his ear to the ground, then straightened up. "Gentlemen, the land says that it belongs to neither of you - but that you belong to it.” Jewish folk tale
The tree has grown into a full being and represents the summer season. The fruit of the realm of Creation has no shell or pit, and may be eaten as is. The seeds are interspersed throughout the fruit, just as we strive to intersperse the divine spark throughout the world. There is a blurring of physical and spiritual barriers that is recalled in the element of wind. We drink wine that is half red and half white, to acknowledge the complete balance between the physical and spiritual in this world
We are called upon to cultivate for our human needs in a manner that recognizes the divine in all life and allows it to flourish.
"Just as grapes have large and small clusters and the large ones hang lower, so too the Jewish people: whoever labors in Torah seems lower than his fellow (due to his humility)." -Midrash Vayikra Rabba 36:2
Choni, the righteous man, was journeying on the road and he saw a man planting a carob tree. He asked him, ‘How long does it take for this tree to bear fruit?’ ‘In about 70 years,’ answered the man. ‘But you are so old; you will never taste its fruit.’ ‘You are right, but I have eaten the fruit of the trees that have been planted before I was born. I plant for my daughters and sons, granddaughters and grandsons.’ Choni sat down to have a meal and sleep overcame him. As he slept, a rocky formation enclosed upon him, which hid him from sight and he continued to sleep for seventy years.
To what extent are our environmental problems due to disregard for future generations? How can we transform our consciousness to overcome this problem? Can intergenerational interaction play a role in this change? When he awoke, he saw a man gathering the fruit of the carob tree and he asked him, 'are you the man who planted the tree?' The man replied, 'I am his grandson.' Thereupon Choni exclaimed: 'It is clear that I slept for seventy years.' -Talmud, Tan'anit 23a
Atzilut, the fourth world, is the world of Emanation. It is the purely spiritual world represented by fire. In the autumn world of Atzilut, we drink deep red wine and eat no fruit, for no fruit can represent this world. As nature expends its last bit of energy, a full cycle is completed.
In the world of Atzilut, we become aware of God's love, mercy, wisdom and other realities perceived with our hearts, not our senses. Our hearts are full and we praise the Source that renews all creation. We let our physical needs and desire to improve the world rest, and simply breathe in time with the earth.
We say ‘Blessed be though, O eternal our God, ruler of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.’ Empirically speaking, would it not be more correct to give credit to the farmer, the merchant and the baker? [Rather] We bless God who makes possible both nature and civilization
-Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man
Hunger is a yearning In body and soul Earth, air, fire, water, And spirit make us whole We share in a vision Of wholeness and release Where every child is nourished And we all live in peace -Hannah Tifereth Seigal Ve-Achalta, Ve-Sav’ata, Uverachta
Master of the Universe, grant me the ability to be alone; May it be my custom to go outdoors each day Among the trees and grass--among all growing things And there may I be alone and enter into prayer, To talk with the One to whom I belong. May I express there everything in my heart. And may all the foliage of the field, all grasses trees and plants Awake at my coming, to send the powers of their life into the words of my prayer So that my prayer and speech are made whole Through the life and spirit of all growing things, Which are made as one by their transcendent Source. May I then pour out the words of my heart Before your Presence like water, O God, And lift up my hands to You in worship, on my behalf, and that of my children! - Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav