16
Jan
14

Tu B’Shevat

This week is tu b’Shevat.  Literally it means the “15th day of the hebrew month  of Shevat.” Since mishanic times it has had a variety of meanings. According to the Mishna it commemorates the new year for trees – the time that a tithe would be calculated for the fruit of trees.  The kabbalists instituted the tradition of a Seder to commemorate Tu b’shevat.  In modern times,   the establishment of the State of Israel emphasized Tu B’shevat as a time to plant trees in Israel. More recently, Tu B’shevat has evolved into an ecological holiday when we enjoy the fruit of the land,  and remember our responsibility to be stewards of the environment. 

 

Our role as stewards of the earth is part of what it means to be created in the image and likeness of God.  In the beginning of Genesis we read  Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. (Gen 2:15 NAU)  To “cultivate” it is to work the land and to “keep” it is to protect the land.  This is an exalted position!  In psalm 8 we read What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him?

 Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, (Psa 8:4-6 NAU)  While the psalm describes the exalted position of mankind, the text is quoted in the New Covenant to describe that greatest man of all and that is Yeshua the Messiah.  As a result of his resurrection from the dead there will be the reality of the messianic kingdom in its fullness when the trees of the field will clap their hands and all of creation will bring glory to God and there will be a new heaven and a new earth.  

 

On Tu B’Shevat may we remember our calling to care for this world and may it be a reminder of the redemption of this world that is to come! 

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3 Responses to “Tu B’Shevat”


  1. 1 JACK SMITH
    January 16, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    SUPERB AS ALWAYS RABBI. G-D IS GREAT.

  2. 2 Heidi
    January 16, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    What a great explanation! Thank you

  3. 3 Linda
    January 20, 2014 at 12:29 am

    Hi Howard.

    I really enjoyed learning about tu b’Shevat. I never knew there was a day commemorating the New Year for trees! The more I learn about Israel’s holidays, the more I appreciate G-D, the Word, Yeshua, the Ruach Ha-kodesh and the more I am able to praise G-D for our salvation looking forward to the day when Messiah returns, establishing his kingdom.

    How wonderful that once a year Israel remembers a new year for trees and can reflect on the fruit their trees are bearing to calculate a tithe and plant new trees.

    In addition to reflecting on physical trees, this holiday inspires me to reflect on trees and the fruit they bear with respect to individuals and nations. In Lev. 26 when G-d established his covenant with Israel at Mt. Sinai between G-d and Israel through Moses, he sets up a paradigm connecting obedience with trees bearing fruit and disobedience with trees not bearing fruit. This paradigm resonates throughout the Torah, Nevi’im, Ketuvim and B’rit Hadashah in pictures of man, Israel, Judah and the nations as trees.

    All of us who fear and love the L-RD desire to be like a healthy tree “planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.” (Psalm 1:1-3) Furthermore, those who love the L-RD and trust in his unfailing love forever and ever (Psalm 52:8-9), hope in the promise of the coming of Messiah to establish his kingdom; restoring Israel through Messiah and Gentiles who are grafted into Messiah so together we can be part of G-D’s Kingdom. As Isaiah described in Isaiah 11:1, “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.” All of us who are in Messiah can together be like a healthy tree in which the birds build their nests.(psalm 104:17) – the Messianic Kingdom. As Yeshua described in Matthew 13:31-32, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of a mustard seed grown larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in it’s branches.”

    Thank you for sharing Israel’s rich heritage and traditions -all to the glory of G-D.

    Linda


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