Let’s make a bet. Take 10 fellow Jews and ask them a very simple question; “What’s the next Jewish holiday?” I guarantee you that the overwhelming majority will say “Purim”. After all, we recently finished Chanukah and everyone knows that the holiday after that is Purim and then Pesach… right? Dearest friends, if you jump from Chanukah straight to Purim, you will have missed one of the most special, beautiful and meaningful holidays on the Jewish calendar called “Tu B’Shvat”.
What kind of holiday is that? There’s no Kiddush or Hallel. No building a Sukkah or massive cleaning projects. No special Torah or Megillah reading, no cheesecake, Matza or Marror, no spending $100 on a fancy lemon and no 5,000 calorie meal… so I ask again, what kind of Jewish holiday is that? You are 100% right. Tu B’Shvat is “none of the above” because it doesn’t need any of those things. Tu B’Shvat is life itself in its purest form. Allow me to explain.
In Israel, most schools learn half a day on Tu B’Shvat and then the children – together with the teachers – go out of the classroom to make the Land of Israel come alive. It’s still the middle of the winter and the ground is wet and muddy yet tens of thousands of children brave the cold to do one of the most basic things a Jew can – and MUST – do… plant a tree in Israel. “And Avraham planted an Eshel in Beersheba” (Beresheit 21:33) According to the Talmud this “Eshel” was not just one tree. “It teaches that he planted an orchard with many types of fruit trees.” (Sotah 10a) Our father Avraham, who had just been promised that the Land of Israel would be his and his descendants – FOREVER – did the most basic act one could do: He planted fruit trees in that very soil!
Fast forward about 3,800 years. It’s now 5779 (2019) and The Nation of Israel has returned to the Land. We have built homes, schools, cities, factories, airports and hospitals, yet before all those things were done, the early pioneers did something far more basic; they planted trees all across the Land. Why trees? Simple… because a tree is symbolic of life. “Etz chaim hee…” – “It is a tree of life…” (Mishlei 3:18) The more trees we plant – especially fruit trees – the more life we bring to ourselves, our families and the entire Nation of Israel!
This Tu B’Shvat, a special opportunity has presented itself and the Jewish world will be coming together in a show of unity. As you know, just over 2 months ago, 11 Jews were brutally murdered in a synagogue in Pittsburgh… the Tree of Life synagogue! Two major Jewish organizations; World Mizrachi and Zo Artzeinu have come together to plant thousands of new fruit trees in Israel, in their memory. World Mizrachi is a global Religious Zionist movement and has been spreading “Torat Eretz Yisrael” for over 100 years and Zo Artzeinu’s “Israel Trees Project” has planted over 300,000 new fruit trees all across Israel – more than any other organization!
The project is open to anyone across the globe and all you need to do is go to our website to plant together with us. The trees will be planted starting this Tu B’Shvat (January 21st) and you can share in this great mitzvah! Let’s show the world that the ground is not just for burial but also for life! Join together with us and plant some trees in memory of the Pittsburgh victims from Tree of Life.
All the information is on our website: www.IsraelTrees.org