Holidays --> Tu b Shvat
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Bishvat (or Tu B'Shvat) (?"? ????) is a minor Jewish
holiday (meaning there are no restrictions on working) and
one of the four Rashei Shanah ("New Years") mentioned
in the Mishnah, the basis of the Talmud. Tu Bishvat is the
Rosh HaShanah La'Ilanot (??? ???? ??????? ) "new year
of the trees". The name Tu Bishvat comes from the date
of the holiday, the 15th day of Shevat (???). Shevat is the
name of a Hebrew calendar month and ?"?, read as "Tu,"
is how the number 15 is represented by Hebrew numerals using
the Hebrew alphabet. It is sometimes referred to by its full
name, Hamishah Asar BeShevat (?????-??? ????), "The Fifteenth
Tu Bishvat was originally a day when the fruits that grew
from that day on were counted for the following year regarding
tithes. (This is according to the school of Hillel, while
according to the school of Shammai that day is the first
of Shevat (Mishnah, Tractate Rosh Hashana 1:1).
the Middle Ages or possibly a little before that, this day
started to be celebrated with a minor ceremony of eating
fruits, since the Mishnah called it "Rosh Hashanah"
("New Year"), and that was later understood as
being a time appropriate for celebration.
the 1600s in the Land of Israel, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of
Safed and his disciples created a short Tu Bishvat seder,
somewhat like the Passover seder, that evokes the holiday's
Kabbalistic themes. There is a Hasidic and Sefardic tradition
that on this day a devout Jew should pray for a kosher etrog
(the citron) that is part of the four species of trees used
on the major festival of Sukkot.
There is a Hasidic tradition for one to pray on Tu Bishvat
for a kosher Etrog (citron) to be used in the four species
held during Hallel prayers on Sukkot. In conjunction with
this practice, many Hassidic Jews eat etrog on this day.
Note: The citron pictured here does not have the pitom tip
at its bottom that is favored by many.In modern times Tu
Bishvat has become popular with many Jews, and is celebrated
with much enthusiasm in Jewish schools, synagogues, and
communities. The main activity is planting trees in open
places in Israel. Thus the holiday today quite resembles
Arbor Day as celebrated in other parts of the world.
tradition of planting trees started in 1890 when the teacher
and writer Zeev Yabetz went out with his students in a school
in Zichron Yaakov for a festive planting. This iniative
was adopted in 1908 by the Israeli Teachers trade union
and later on by the Land Development Authority (Hakeren
Hakayemet L’Israel). This practice is shunned by most Orthodox
Jews due to its secular origin.