The Meaning of Tu BiShvat
Tu BiShvat, which takes place on the 15th of Shevat, seems to be a Jewish holiday of lesser significance, as if hidden among the distinctive Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Hanukkah, Purim, Passover and Shavuot. Its customs are simplistic and few: eating dried fruit and drinking some wine while the children plant tree seeds.
However, according to its inner meaning, the holiday of Tu BiShvat holds monumental importance among the Jewish holidays, as it discusses a very important discernment on our path to a harmonious reality: the discernment of needing to choose an environment, plant ourselves in it, invest in it, and care for the means that can grow us to become more and more optimally connected.
In our current times, as we plod on in the midst of heated social division, terror and nuclear weapon anxiety, the reawakening of Nazi, fascist and xenophobic tendencies, as well as increasing depression, stress and loneliness, the holiday of Tu BiShvat comes to remind us of nature’s positive power. The seed we plant in the soil symbolizes the great potential that dwells in our connections.
This seed will germinate and grow into a life-giving tree, which will later bear fruit. For example, a feeling of safety and confidence in the streets, the reduction of economic inequality and disparity, a healthcare system that concerns itself with all people, and the education of connection-enriching values. The wisdom of Kabbalah, the teaching of how to draw nature’s force of positive connection into our relations, is the water. When we let the spirit of positive connection, “the water,” flow between us, it serves to lubricate our connections, vitalizing them with nature’s positive, connective force.
Investing in rich, fertile soil can be likened to building an environment that will value nature’s quality of love, bestowal and connection above any other values. That is Tu BiShvat’s universal message. It is also the reason why Kabbalists have always regarded the holiday with utmost importance. As the Torah compares humanity to a “tree of the field,” Tu BiShvat, also called “the New Year of the trees,” is an invitation to the beginning of growth, the beginning of a new life.
“The person is called a tree of the field, and Rosh HaShanah is the time of judgment, for better or for worse. … It is written, ‘Forever is mercy built’ (Psalms 89:3). So on Tu BiShvat, which is called the New Year for Trees, we must be strengthened with the quality of kindness, because for this we merit fruit, which is called ‘a tree bearing fruit.””
– Rabbi Baruch Shalom HaLevi Ashlag, Dargot HaSulam, “The New Year of the Trees.”
Tu Bishvat, “The New Year of the Trees,” symbolizes the fruit of the spiritual work, growth.
In the first stage of our spiritual path we invert the egoistic intention (Lo Lishma) into an altruistic intention (Lishma), bestowing in order to bestow. In Kabbalah, this degree is called “the quality of Bina.” The acquisition of this quality makes us a “tree of the field.”
Our next milestone of spiritual progress is receiving in order to bestow. Here, the barren tree of the field starts bearing fruit. This is a result of our work and our degree.
We now use our “tree” to grow fruit, fulfill the desires of others, and we relate to them as the source of bestowal. This way, we equalize with the quality of bestowal and complete our correction. This way, Tu BiShvat also contains the completion of our spiritual work.
Tu BiShvat might appear to be a trivial holiday. Its customs don’t extend beyond eating fruits, drinking some wine and children planting tree seeds in the ground. However, it is a very important holiday, since it represents the outcome of spiritual work, the fruit of our efforts. Out of nature’s four levels—still, vegetative, animate, speaking—Tu BiShvat represents the correction of the vegetative level.
The Meaning of the New Year of the Trees
The New Year of the Trees marks their awakening to life, symbolizing the awakening of a person to achieve the purpose of life: equivalence with nature’s quality of love, bestowal and connection.
The Meaning of ‘A man is like a tree in the field’
A tree has a special internal structure that feeds from the ground and stretches upward toward the sun. The most important part of the tree is its fruit. In general, any plant, everything that grows from the earth, feeds us and is the basis of our material life. Our spiritual development functions according to the principle that we operate as a tree through all kinds of actions we do.
The Meaning of Fruits
Fruits represent attaining our purpose in life, which is to harmonize with nature’s quality of love, bestowal and connection. In principle, everyone would want to attain this goal if they understood how sweet that fruit is: an eternal and perfect existence in absolute attainment without any restrictions and problems.
Whether we want it or not, we nevertheless get closer to it. However, Kabbalah can accelerate our path if we use it correctly. Otherwise we’ll have to advance the way we do now, with the help of unpleasant blows from nature that push us forward.
There is a beautiful future ahead of us and I hope that the same sweetness we feel from the good fruits of the earth and plants, we will feel from fulfilling our soul.
Further Reading on Tu BiShvat
Posts in Dr. Michael Laitman’s Personal Blog
- New Life #677 – The Meaning Of Tu Bishvat
- The Fruit Of The Tree Of Knowledge
- Introductory Lecture “Tu B’Shevat” – 01.18.11 – video, audio
- Milestones On The Way
- The Meaning Of The Tu B’Shevat Holiday
- New Life #193 – The Jewish Holidays
- Tu B’Shevat As A Turning Point In Providence
Material on Hanukkah and the Jewish holidays by the Bnei Baruch Kabbalah Education & Research Institute
- The Meaning of the Jewish Holidays – chapter from the book, The Path of Kabbalah
- The Spiritual Meaning of the Jewish Holidays – app for Android, iPhone and iPad
The Meaning of the Jewish Holidays Series
- The Meaning of Rosh Hashanah
- The Meaning of Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement)
- The Meaning of Sukkot
- The Meaning of Simchat Torah
- The Meaning of Hanukkah
- The Meaning of Tu BiShvat
- The Meaning of Purim
- The Meaning of Passover
- The Meaning of Shavuot