The most popular way of celebrating the day is very simple – to eat fruit, especially fruit connected with the Land of Israel. Many will go on a fruit spree and make sure to eat 15 different types.
While today it is easy to get hold of fruit from Israel all year round, in the days before modern transportation, Jews in Europe would often eat the dry fruit of the carob on Tu Bishvat since it could endure a long journey. It is far from being an exotic fruit (and is now used as a substitute for chocolate) Another tree linked with the festival is almond, as it was among the first to reawaken in spring in the Land of Israel.
It is customary also to eat four groups of fruit at various points during the Seder, each group invested with different spiritual connotations.
of the Trees
Shevat means “rod“, meaning that it’s a time of ‘judgment’, an allusion to Rosh hashanah . Tu Bishvat is called the Rosh Hashanah of the Fruit Trees.
Nevertheless, the actual Judgment Day for trees seems to occur much earlier in the year, perhaps on Sukkoth , or even on Rosh Hashanah itself. In what sense then, is Tu Bishvat a new beginning for the trees, and for us?
Tu Bishvat would thus be the first glimmer of love before the act of Creation, it is the day that new sap begins to stir and flow within the fruit trees of the land of Israel . It is the first glimmer of the new fruits that will blossom in Nisan. It is the first glimmer of the grace that will nourish us in the coming year.
Tu Bishvat helps us align with holy eating from the earliest moment of the development of this year’s delicious fruits. This day gives us a new beginning at very the fulcrum of our lives, the primal and decisive act of eating.
The real pleasure of eating comes not from the physicality of the food, but from the spiritual “word of YAH” within the food, as it is written, “for not on the bread alone will man live, rather from the word of YAH….”
What if we could taste the spiritual reality within the physicality of the food itself? Then the “word of YAH” and its “exchange”, or the physicality, would both be holy, and we would have expanded holiness into the realm of physical pleasure.
Major Events in Shevat
On the first day of Shevat, Moses had the Torah translated into the seventy languages of the world. His intention was to expand the boundary of holiness, to include the world in the light of Torah wisdom.
The Torah Connected
The Torah has compared Man to a tree of the field; hence this day also recalls the Divine judgment upon man. For such is the character of the people of Israel, that they rejoice on a day of judgment. Whatever the decision is, let all see that “there is a law and there is a Judge.” The Torah is the law, and YAHUVEH is the Judge.