The main festival which takes place during this Hebrew month is dated on the 15th of Shevat, which is know as Tu B'shevat, this is known as the festival of the new year for trees (Mishna Rosh Hashana 2).
The land of Israel was famous for 7 different species; Wheat, Barley, Grapes, Figs, Pomegranates, Olives and also Dates (Devarim 8:8).
It is customary during this day to say blessings on the fruits and species which fames the land of Israel. Many ‘Bracha’ parties take place on this day, to celebrate this wonderful festival of the New Year for Trees.
Tu B'Shevat is also the New Year for the purpose of calculating the age of trees for tithing. The Torah states that fruit from trees which were grown in the land of Israel can not be eaten during the first three years; the fourth year's fruit is for G-d, and after that, the fruit may be eaten (Vayikra 19: 23/25).
Each tree is actually considered to have aged one year on the date of Tu B'Shevat (15th Shevat), no matter at what time in the year it was planted.
We actually learn these laws in the book of Devarim in the reading of parshah Re’ah. The parshah talks about the rewards for observing the laws within regards to tithes (Devarim 14:28/29).
This is the season in that the earliest-blooming trees in the Land of Israel emerge from their winter phase and begin a new fruit budding bearing cycle.
In Israel, it is customary for the Jews to plant trees on Tu B'Shevat. Outside of Israel, many Jews collect funds for planting trees in Israel.
Many Jews also make a special Seder on Tu B’Shevat which is similar to the Pesach Seder. This tradition started with Jewish mystics but now is becoming more prevalent among Jews who are interested in environmental initiatives.
Many people pray on this day for a beautiful, unblemished etrog, symbolic of righteous Jews, in order to aesthetically perform the mitzvah as best as possible when the time of Sukkot comes, by having a beautiful etrog.
On Tu B'Shevat, just the beginning of springtime, the tree's potential, the fruit, is yet to be seen. However, we rejoice, that we are so faithful that in a few weeks' time the tree will bear fruit. From this we learn a lesson, in life, things may not go are way some times or we may see that it doesn’t go our way all of the time, but if we have true faith, Hashem has his plan and does everything for the best in the long run!!
Hope you all had a fantastic Shabbat, we will be reading parshat Yitro this week. This Dvar Torah is dedicated to the recovery of Ahuva Bat Chaya Chiria.