Tradition Today: Halacha and history

The Tu Bishvat celebrations are over. Trees have been planted, fruit has been eaten, and a certain amount of environmental consciousness has entered our minds, though probably not enough. None of that, of course, has anything to do with the original meaning of Tu Bishvat as found in the Mishna: “The New Year of the Trees is on the first of Shvat according to Beit Shammai. Beit Hillel says the 15th of the month.”

That is, the year of counting the cycle of tithing the fruits begins on that date. The metamorphosis of the day only illustrates the way that observances grow and change with the times.


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