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The Biblical Significance of the Month of Shevat

Shevat is the eleventh month of the Hebrew calendar. In the Land of Israel, Shevat is the month when winter gives way to spring. The first trees begin to blossom. In Jewish tradition, the 15th of Shevat, or Tu Bi-Shvat, is the new year of trees (Rosh HaShana LeIlanot). In modern Israel, it has become a custom to plant trees on Tu Bi-Shvat, and generally to raise awareness about protection of nature.


The question is, why specifically trees are celebrated, and not every plant? What makes a tree special? It bears fruit. Trees and fruit, therefore, are the main themes of the whole month.


There has been a connection between trees and man from the beginning, see Genesis 2:9 and 2:16-17. We know the story: we lost access to the tree of life. The phrase “tree of life” appears only in three books in the whole Bible: Genesis, Proverbs and Revelation. Proverbs is a book of wisdom, and contains practical insight and advice for a fruitful life. (For instance: A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit. Proverbs 15:4.) The other two books, Genesis and Revelation, inform us about the origins and the culmination of history. In that sense, we can say that the tree of life, which is introduced at the beginning, reappears at the end of history. Jesus says in Revelation 2:7: He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.

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