Tonight is the New Year for trees. It has been celebrated since the Middle Ages. In the 1500s, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed instituted a Tu B’Shvat Seder to deepen the spiritual connection to our Creator using the important symbol of the tree.
When I was growing up, we would sell ten-cent coupons to plant trees in a very arid undeveloped Israel. Today, Israel welcomes spring with the blossoming of wild almond trees and a perfect opportunity to increase greater issues of environmental awareness.
To transform your Shabbat meal into a Tu B’Shvat Seder, add the seven species of fruits, nuts and grains and four glasses of wine or juice.
Represent the seven species with wheat and barley in the form of bread, cake or cereal; nuts with the shells such as walnuts, almonds, pistachios, or coconut; fruits with peels like oranges, pomegranates, mangos, bananas, or avocados; fruits with edible seeds like blueberries, figs, grapes or raisins; and fruits with inedible pits like dates, peaches, plums, and olives.
Take each fruit one by one. Say the prayer and take the time to enjoy the many unique flavors and textures while reflecting on the bounty available to us.
Baruch Ata Adod-nai Elohai-nu Melech HaOlam boray pri ha-aitz.
Blessed are You, Holy of Holies, Who creates the fruit of the tree.
For the wine or grape juice, use both white to represent the potential of nature and red to represent the actuality of full blooms. Drink four cups: The first cup is pure white; the second cup is pale pink- white with a drop of red; the third Cup is darker pink with more red; and the fourth cup is almost totally red.
Tu B’Shvat Sameach