15th of Shevat: Rosh Hashana for Trees

The 15th day of Shevat, commonly referred to as Tu B’Shevat, is the ‘Rosh Hashana’ of trees and is marked by eating fruits. Read about its minhagim and watch the Rebbe celebrate the day.

The 15th day of Shevat is the ‘Rosh Hashana’ of trees and has halachic relevance for maaser and orlah.

Although this day is Rosh Hashanah of trees, we attach special significance to this day since “Man is like the tree of the field” (Devarim 20:19). Through cultivating strong roots – faith and commitment – we produce many fruits—Torah and mitzvos.

On Tu B’Shvat it is customary to partake of the fruit with which Eretz Yisroel is praised: olives, dates, grapes, figs, and pomegranates (Devarim 8:8). Many also have the custom to eat carobs (“bukser” in Yiddish).

If tasting any of these fruit for the first time this season, Shehecheyanu is recited (if the fruit is not widely available year-round). According to the Alter Rebbe, Shehecheyanu is recited before the bracha of Ha’etz.

In 5747/1987, the Rebbe called to arrange gatherings on Tu B’Shvat to strengthen Torah and Tefilah, and to follow the teachings of the Frierdiker Rebbe (whose yahrtzeit is several days earlier). The Rebbe mentioned the custom to eat carobs which have a miraculous connection, as the Gemara relates of R. Chanina ben Dosa who would live from a measure of carobs each week and experienced many miracles.

At a 5748/1988 farbrengen, the Rebbe noted the minhag to eat tasty fruits on Tu B’Shvat and to recite Shehecheyanu on at least one fruit.

Tu B’Shvat Farbrengen

Memories of 15 Shevat, 1941, in Marseille

In 1941, the Rebbe traveled to Marseilles, France, to obtain entry visas to the United States for himself and Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka. While there, the Rebbe maintained his characteristic low profile, but at a gathering in honor of the New Year of Trees, he gave those present a taste of things to come.

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