Tu B’Shevat Seders

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Tu B’shevat (the 15th of the Hebrew month of Shevat) was first mentioned in the Mishnah as the “new year for trees.” This reflects the precept that prohibits use of the fruit or cutting down trees that are less than three years old. Additionally, people paid tithes on produce grown in the land of Israel which were dispersed to the poor and to religious officials who didn’t produce fruit of their own.

Until the early modern era, Tu b’Shevat was noted principally for its legal technicalities and was not celebrated as a holiday. However, the Kabbalists of Tsafat — a city that became known for its community of mystics in the sixteenth century — developed a Tu b’Shevat seder, along the lines of the Passover seder, emphasizing the fruits of Eretz Yisrael. In their mystical formulations that focused on repairing (tikkun) the world, they believed that they could recreate the idyllic world of the Garden of Eden through the acts of celebrating and eating the fruits of Israel.

Unlike the Passover Haggadah, there is no established liturgy for the Tu B’Shevat seder. Most, however, do follow the format established by the kabbalists. In modern times, many of the Tu B’Shevat celebrations focus on environmental issues, Israel and other types of tikkun olam.

Here are several Tu B’Shevat sedarim, adapted for WLCJ use, and also several links to others that your sisterhoods might light to adapt for your own community.