Happy Tu B'Shvat
“In days to come Jacob shall take root, Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots, and fill the whole world with fruit.” (Isaiah 27:6)
Today, Israelis are celebrating a new year (Rosh Hashanah) — one of the four new years on the Hebrew calendar: Rosh HaShanah La’Ilanot — New Year for Trees.
It is more commonly known as Tu B’Shvat, which means the 15th of the calendar month, Shevat.
In Israel, the Jewish People dedicate this day to the reviving of the Land by planting trees — an idea close to YAH’s heart, for He Himself planted trees!
“Now YEHOVAH GOD had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there He put the man He had formed.” (Genesis 2:8)
People of all ages, especially farmers and kibbutz dwellers, young adults and school children, will plant tree saplings all over the Land of Israel today.
Let’s discover why the planting of trees is so important to YAH and to the nation of Israel.
of the Trees
It began as a way to fulfil the Biblical commandment to tithe produce.
Leviticus 19:23 says that fruit from a tree may not be eaten during the first three years of its life. “In the fourth year all its fruit will be holy, an offering of praise to YEHOVAH.” (v. 24)
So, how would an early Israelite calculate when a tree is four years old in order to bring its fruit to the Temple as an offering?
What happens on Tu B’Shvat, however, now that the Temple no longer exists?
After the Romans laid siege to Jerusalem in AD 70, destroying the Temple, no more fruit offerings could be made.
Moreover, the Jewish people were scattered throughout the world and for almost 1,900 years, no one was taking care of the trees in the land.
In 1867, Mark Twain described its barrenness in The Innocents Abroad:
“[Israel is a] desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds … a silent mournful expanse …. a desolation. … We never saw a human being on the whole route. … hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.”
Even in the last few years, Arab arsonists have destroyed large parts of beautiful forests in Israel; if only they knew the Bible and God’s heart for His creation — the trees.
“When you lay siege to a city for a long time, fighting against it to capture it, do not destroy its trees.” (Deuteronomy 20:19)
With no Temple in Jerusalem where fruit offerings can be made, Tu B’Shvat has come to represent the return to the Land that YAH gave the Jewish People for an everlasting possession.
“The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their ELOHIM.” (Genesis 17:8; also 48:4)
Returning to our God-given inheritance comes with responsibilities to replenish the land with trees.
Tu B’Shvat Back in the Land
Israel is Messiah’s country and was created to be a blessing to the whole world.
Today, the land that was once barren and lifeless is now an exporter of fruits and flowers to the world, as foretold in Isaiah 27:6:
“In days to come Jacob shall take root, Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots, and fill the whole world with fruit.”
Outbreak of malaria in the Hula Valley -north of the Sea of Galilee by planting eucalyptus trees.
Every year, major tree-planting events in Israel, with over a million Israelis taking part. Since 1905, israel has planted around 250 million trees!
“The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing.” (Isaiah 35:1)
Who would have thought that Israel could be regathered again as a nation after 2,000 years and blossom as Isaiah foresaw, for YEHOVAH’s sake?
“Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall be to ELOHIM for a memorial, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” (Isaiah 55:13)
Blossoming almond trees:
“The next day Moses entered the tent and saw that Aaron’s staff, which represented the tribe of Levi, had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds.”
Torah, Trees, and YESHU A
Tu B’Shvat also has deep spiritual significance.
The Torah is considered a Tree of Life, a source of divine nourishment and sustenance.
Because of this, when the Torah scroll is returned to the ark (its protective cabinet) during a synagogue service, the congregation recites Proverbs 3:18:
“She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.” refering to RUACH HAKODESH
The Apostle John tried to help the Jewish People understand that this tree of life — the Word of YEHOVAH they tenderly hold in their arms.
That Tree of Life manifested in human skin!
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with ELOHIM, and the Word was ELOHIM. … The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1, 14)
As the Word of YEHOVAH in flesh, YESHUA spent much of His time explaining through words and miraculous encounters even raising the dead that He is the source of everlasting life.
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.” (John 10:27–28)
The Jewish People are trying to enter eternal life by producing fruit on their own merit, without their Messiah.
But YESHUA said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon.” (Psalm 92:12)
Just as the coldest, darkest winters always end, and the earth brings forth fruit, so too in our lives: even the darkest of days end and YAH has something fresh in store for us.
“Blessed is the one … whose delight is in the Torah of the YEHOVAH, and who meditates on his Torah day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.” (Psalm 1:1–3)
Planting a seed is an act of faith
When we plant a seed, it doesn’t spring up overnight. It grows unseen inside the earth. We cannot see its transformation as it puts down roots that draw nourishment from the earth. Then it pushes past the surface toward light, eventually bearing fruit.
As we celebrate the growth of trees that produce oxygen for us to breathe and fruit to eat, we remember that many Bible verses compare people to the trees of the field:
“When you besiege a city for a long time, while making war against it to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them; if you can eat of them, do not cut them down to use in the siege, for the tree of the field is man’s food. (Deuteronomy 20:19)
The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree,
He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
My root is spread out to the waters,
And the dew lies all night on my branch.
To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of YEHOVAH, that He may be glorified.”
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
And he who wins souls is wise. (Proverbs 11:30)
YEHOVAH called your name,
Green Olive Tree, Lovely and of Good Fruit.
With the noise of a great tumult
He has kindled fire on it,
And its branches are broken.
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit.
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit (John 15:1-2)
You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if YEHOVAH did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of YEHOVAH: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for YAH is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? (Romans 11:17, 24)
Tu B’Shvat is a day to ask ourselves if we, like a tree, are reaching upward toward the Light looking for YESHUA.
Are we making sure that our fruit is sweet and that we are adding another ring of growth in YEHOVAH, as each year passes?
Also, are we nurturing the potential in others by caring for those saplings that have been entrusted to us, watering them and sheltering them?
As the sap begins to rise in the trees here in Israel, preparing them to bear leaves, flowers, and fruit, sow the Good Seed of the Word of YEHOVAH. To bring souls to YESHUA for he is the one who give the increase.
“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and the one who is wise saves lives.” (Proverbs 11:30)
“May it be Your will, YEHOVAH our GOD and the ELOHIM of our fathers, that you renew for us a good and fruitful year in our LORD YESHUA the Messiah.” Amen!
Happy Tu’ B’Shvat Shalom !