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Tu Bishva

Tu Bishvat (or Tu B'Shvat) is a minor Jewish holiday (meaning there are no restrictions on working) and one of the four Rosh Hashanahs ("New Years") mentioned in the Mishnah. Tu Bishvat is the "new year of the trees". The name Tu Bishvat comes from the date of the holiday, the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat.

Tradition teaches that the trees' sap begins to rise on this day, in anticipation of the coming spring. Though not a Biblical holiday, its original purpose was to calculate the tree's age for tithing.

The Torah teaches that the tree's fruit may not be eaten for the first three years. The fourth year is tithed to the Lord, and from the fifth year on, its fruit may be enjoyed (Leviticus 19:23-25). On this day, every tree in the Land becomes one year older, no matter when it was planted.

On Tu Bishvat, Israelis head outdoors to plant trees. Throughout the country, thousands of school children carefully place the tender saplings in the damp earth, a tradition that affirms their connection to the Land God has given us. In the short time since the modern state of Israel was born, thousands upon thousands of barren acres have been re-forested.

In addition to planting trees, Israelis eat the fruit of the Land, with special emphasis on the seven species, including figs, dates, carob, grapes and pomegranates.

"For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of rivers and springs ... a land of wheat and barley, and grapevines and figs and pomegranates; a land laden with olives and (date) honey ... And you shall eat and be satisfied and bless the Lord your God on the good land that He has given you" (Deuteronomy 8:7-8,10).