Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tu biShbat: ILANOT

Today is the 14th day of Shebat , 5771

Tonight B'H will be the fifteenth day (in Hebrew= Tu) of the month of Shebat, the New Year - Rosh haShana- of the trees. In our community this festival is known as "ILANOT" (trees). Tu biShbat is considered the new year of the trees in the sense that on this day the trees (or more specifically, their fruits) are considered one year older, independently of when they were planted (See link for details). This in an important fact for many Mitzvot connected to agriculture like 'orla', etc. for which one needs to know the age of the tree.

How do we celebrate the 15th of Shebat today?

The custom in our community is to eat tonight from the seven fruits or species for which the Land of Israel is praised: "...a land of wheat and barley and grape and fig and pomegranate, a land of olives and honey (=dates)" (Deut. 8:8).

It is a special Zekhut to eat fruits which actually come from the Land of Israel and say Berakha for them.

In Iran our community used to say one berakha for each one of the seven fruits, uncovering one at a time. Mr Nassim Bassalian told me that here the standard custom is to say just one berakha for the fruits of the tree (haetz) and the correspondent berakha for whatever is eaten made of wheat and barley (normally, mezonot).

No special prayers are added to the regular services and Tachanun is not said.

For more information about Tu-biShbat click here:

Rabbi Yosef Bitton. YMJC | 130 Steamboat Rd. | Great Neck | NY | 11024