The New Year for Trees

Seder - Kabbalah - DenverYou could wait for Friday April 20th. That is when Arbor Day is celebrated in Colorado this year. Arbor Day in the United States is a local custom and it varies greatly. In Jewish tradition the New Year for Trees was designated long ago as falling in the month of Shevat—our current month on the Hebrew calendar. At this time of year, in the “dead” of winter, trees are just beginning to come out of their hibernation and this is the basis for celebrating Tu B’Shevat (the 15th of Shevat) as the New Year for Trees.

We will celebrate Tu B’Shevat with our community partners this coming Tuesday evening February 7 as we sit down to a Seder established by the Kabbalists in Tzfat. The more well known Passover Seder was the model for the Kabbalaists and so we drink four cups of wine (or grape juice) on Tu B’Shevat evening as well. That is where the similarity ends. Instead of matzo and bitter herbs we eat tree products—fruits and nuts—symbols of the coming renewal of nature. Passover is a reflection on the past while Tu B’shevat looks to the future.

In Kabbalah we always look from the external symbol inwards—to our own ‘nature’ and those elements in us that are hibernating. Trees are dormant during the winter—animals hibernate for the same reason—to conserve energy.  So what is the parallel for us as humans? The most apt word for this might be retreat. For those who can afford the luxury of retreating to warmer climes they ‘winter retreat’ to the desert or other warmer destinations. How does one retreat internally, go dormant and be as silent as a tree in the winter?

That is one of the symbolic lessons of Tu B’Shevat and so we will be adding to our ritual this year at the Seder a meditation. If you retreat deep enough, into the silence of your own heart, you may even hear the trees whispering.

David Sanders


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts

Carob image

Planting Hope

by Dr. David Sanders Carob is an acquired taste especially for a child.  Every year, in the winter, on the holiday of Tu b’Shevat (Festival of New Trees) we were treated to raw carob. Most

Tu B'Shevat seder cover

Kabbalah Experience Tu B’Shevat Seder

This Tu B’Shevat Seder, created by Dr. David Sanders, guides the reader with poetry, song, food, and reflections on the mystical four worlds, and how we traverse them. Tu B’Shevat is one of the four

Blog Koby Gruenwald (z"l)

For All These Things

by Melanie Gruenwald For all these things A song by Naomi Shemer Every bee that brings the honey Needs a sting to be complete And we all must learn to taste the bitter with the

Photo by Ditto Bowo on Unsplash

Holding Opposites

by Dr. David Sanders It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it

KE awareness practices

Practicing Awareness

by Melanie Gruenwald Last December 31st, Salomon, Hannah, Micah and I spent New Year’s Eve together. We each took a moment to write a personal note to our future self, reflecting on hopes and dreams