The Fifteenth of Shevat
January 25, 2005
By Rochelle L. Valasek
At first, the Fifteenth of Shevat, more commonly called by its Hebrew name, Tíu Bí Shevat, was one of the four Jewish New Yearís Days. Shevat is a Jewish month (January-February) and Tíu is not a word, but the number 15 in Hebrew. The fifteenth of Shevat is also a holiday instituted by the ancient rabbis. Itís a minor festival that did not originate with God nor is mentioned of itís founding in the scriptures, though the bible does refer to the Messiahís reign on earth when God made a promise. (Ezekiel 36:30, 34-36)
The reason why the Fifteenth of Shevat is on January 25th of 2005 is because the Jewish bases their years on the lunar calendar. The first of the month corresponds to the first glint of the new moon.
Tíu Bí Shevat is for the purpose of tithing fruit. (Nehemiah 10:35), which marked the commencement of the festival of the New Years of Trees (specifically fruit trees).
When the Romans conquered the Jews in the wars of 70 A.D. and 135 A.D., the Romans devastated the country by cutting down countless trees. They did this, not only to intimidate the Jews, but also to make the land in a state of disrepair. This devastation lasted for centuries. Since there is no longer a Temple for bringing the tithe of fruit, the Fifteenth of Shevat has taken on a whole new meaning. It is now Israelís Arbor Day.
On Israelís Arbor Day, the children have the day off from school and they use this time to sow trees and sing songs. These acts are to replenish the faithfulness to the homeland. Outside of Israel, the fifteenth of Shevat is observed in a multiplicity of ways. Comparable to the Passover Seder, some people developed their own Seder to commemorate the occasion. Others follow the custom of eating fifteen different kinds of fruits, particularly fruits that are native to Israel.