Thursday, January 2, 2014

January First 1st Isn't My New Year, Chodesh Sh'vat Tov!

Living in Israel, especially in a place like Shiloh, even though I use non-Jewish dates on infrequently written checks, it's very easy to be oblivious to dates like December 31/January 1st aka New Year's Day. For me, this year's January 1st was the day before Rosh Chodesh Shvat.  I could see that in Jerusalem's Machane Yehuda which has lots of traditional and not so traditional fruit for sale for celebrating TU (the 15th of) B'Shvat טו בשבט.
When you come to the land and you plant any tree, you shall treat its fruit as forbidden; for three years it will be forbidden and not eaten. In the fourth year, all of its fruit shall be sanctified to praise the L-RD. In the fifth year, you may eat its fruit. -Leviticus 19:23-25
There are four new years... the first of Shevat is the new year for trees according to the ruling of Beit Shammai; Beit Hillel, however, places it on the fifteenth of that month. -Mishnah Rosh Hashanah 1:1
Tu B'Shevat, the 15th day of the Jewish month of Shevat, is a holiday also known as the New Year for Trees. The word "Tu" is not really a word; it is the number 15 in Hebrew, as if you were to call the Fourth of July "Iv July" (IV being 4 in Roman numerals). See Hebrew Alphabet for more information about using letters as numbers and why the number 15 is written this way.
As with many Jewish Holidays, there's a very strong connection to agriculture.  The Jewish People/Land was an agrarian society in the Time of the Bible.  Many of the 613 Mitzvot are connected to farming and can only be observed in the Land of Israel, Eretz Yisrael ארץ ישראל .

Instead of all the exotic and imported dried fruit, many people buy and eat in honor of TU B'Shvat, it's actually preferable to have locally grown fruits and nuts, especially the "Seven Species," Shiv'at HaMinim שבעת המינים.
Tu B’Shvat appears in the Talmud (Rosh Hashanah 2a) as one of the four “new years” in the Jewish calendar:
“Beit Hillel says that the ‘new year for the trees’ is the 15th of Shevat – Tu B’Shvat.”
The custom on Tu B’Shvat is to eat fruits from the seven species for which the Land of Israel is praised: "...a land of wheat, barley, [grape] vines, fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and [date] honey" (Deut. 8:8).
It's also getting more and more popular to attend/conduct a TU b'Shvat Seder, a ceremonial meal consisting of fruit and wine native to the Land of Israel.  Unlike the Passover Seder, there isn't one traditional ceremony and text on which people base their Seder. has a TU b'Shvat Seder you can try out and edit to your needs and preferences.

Courtesy of

And since today, it's the 1st of Shvat Rosh Chodesh Shvat on the Jewish Calendar, my plan is to doven (pray) with other women at Shiloh HaKeduma, Tel Shiloh.  Shiloh is a very traditional location for Jewish Prayer.  It's where the Biblical Channah, Hannah, successfully prayed for a son, who ended up being the Prophet Samuel, Shmuel Hanavi.  He was the one who worked with G-d to create the Jewish Monarchy and anointed the first two kings, Saul and David.

Next month's Rosh Chodesh, Beginning of the Jewish Month will be Adar Alef, Friday January 31.

Women's Prayers at Tel Shiloh
Rosh Chodesh Adar Alef

Friday, January 31, 2014
30th of Shvat 5774, 8:30am
Tour of Tel Shiloh & Dvar Torah, Short Torah Lesson
Please come and invite family, friends and neighbors

תפילת נשים
ראש חודש אדר א' בתל שילה

יום ו' 31-1 ל' שבט תשע"ד 8:30
יהיה דבר תורה קצר וסיור בתל
 כדאי לבוא ולהזמין חברות, משפחה ושכנות

Mark your calendar, and join us.  

You're welcome to join our facebook page. Tel Shiloh is open to visitors daily. Tours can be arranged through the Shiloh HaKeduma, Ancient Shiloh office. Email  or phone 02-994-4019.

חודש טוב Chodesh Tov


Shy Guy said...

January 1st is my new year!

For taxes.


Batya said...

Shy, that's like for the checkbook.

Shy Guy said...

For those who don't know it, only in Israel can you date your checks according to the Jewish lunar calendar.

Batya said...

Yes, Shy, I'm getting there. At least we celebrate Jewish birthdays in my family.