Jews celebrate the Birthday of the Trees
January 21, 2008:
This evening Jews around the world celebrate the festival of Tu B'Shvat – the Birthday of the Trees.
In the mystical tradition of Kabbalah Tu B’Shavat also celebrates the reawakening of Divine energy with God as the Tree of Life, with roots in Heaven and fruit as human beings.
This year the US-based Shalom Centre, founders of the Green Menorah Covenant, has created a special pamphlet and web resource for families and communities holding a Tu B'Shvat Seder or giving a sermon on the Birthday of the Trees. In this pamphlet each of the four courses of the seder meal is associated with issues connected to the climate crisis. Link here for more details.
According to Rabbi Arthur Waskow, author of Trees, Earth and Torah and co-founder of the Green Menorah Covenant, ancient rabbis taught that Tu B'Shvat represented the fiscal New Year for trees, in regard to tithing their fruit. Meanwhile Kabbalists in 16th century Tzfat in northern Israel modeled a sacred meal for that day on the Passover seder, “celebrating in their meal God's flow of natural abundance through four courses of wine and fruit.”
Today, Rabbi Waskow points out, that flow of natural abundance is threatened by many factors, but most strongly by the global climate crisis.
“The Tree imagery reminds us that the Temple Menorah was patterned after a tree, with branches, leaves and almond blossoms (Exodus 25:31-40, 37:17-24). The original menorah was a Tree of Light - truly a green menorah.”