On the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat we celebrate Tu B'Shvat, a holiday that honors trees and nature. Since Rabbi David and I love to garden, planting something special in our backyard in honor Tu B'Shavat is not only a gift for Mother Earth but a gift for us as well! And as I wrote last year anything we do in nature helps to balance us!
And to help balance us, we are asked to eat fruits, especially those grown in Israel! Yes, another holiday for eating!! Each fruit also has its own special gift to give us. Participating in a Tu B'Shvat seder as the Kabbalists used to do helps us to further delve into these gifts which connect us to different spiritual realms. But even if we don't have the opportunity to participate in a seder we can still delight in the different fruits! Yum!
Delighting in our meals is a theme throughout Judaism. In fact our table at a meal becomes a mini altar. We are first asked to say a blessing and then eat with awareness that we are partnering with G-d as we eat. Through our senses of sight, smell, taste we are actually giving G-d the experience of eating! With this en-joyment of our food we are bringing ourselves to a higher state. And we then affect the whole! Pretty awesome how it is all set up!
Here are the different levels of fruit we eat at a Tu B'Shvat seder:
Level I - fruits and nuts with a tough outer shell and soft inside reminding us that G-d protects our bodies(outside) and souls(inside.) This is the Kabbalistic world of Assyiah - Doing, Actions, our physical world. Earth is the symbol. We drink white wine for winter when nature is asleep.
Level II - fruits with soft outer shells and hard insides (pits) reminding us that if we have strong inner energy, we don't need to be hard on the outside. This is the world of Ytzirah - Formation, energy and feelings. Water is the symbol. We drink white wine with a few drops of red for the beginning of spring when the sun begins to warm the earth.
Level III - fruits that are soft throughout so whole fruit can be eaten. There is no difference between our inner feelings and outer selves. This is the world of Briyah - Creation, ideas, hopes, natural laws and patterns of the universe. Wind is the symbol. We drink white wine with more red mixed in for the summer harvest and the richness of life.
Level IV - we do not eat any fruits as we are so close to G-d in this level who is timeless and infinite. This is the world of Atzilute - Nobility, oneness, harmony. The symbol is fire. We drink red wine for the end of summer and beginning of the fall season, to once again prepare for a new cycle. We light a candle to remember each one is responsible for bringing our Light into the world.
One more thing! Planting a tree in Israel is a beautiful mitzvah for this holiday! Hope you will do that too! Plant a Tree in Israel!
Happy Tu B'Shvat!
Here are some of the second level fruits we eat at a Tu B'Shvat seder