Tu BiShvat | The Jewish New Year For Trees and The Promise of Restoration

Tu BiShvat, also known as Israel’s Arbor Day, is a Jewish holiday dedicated to the planting of trees. It’s an environmentally responsible practice, honoring the Genesis mandate to steward God’s creation, and is also connected to the Zionist movement and establishing a Jewish homeland.

As the Zionist movement progressed towards the establishment of Israel so did the festival of Tu BiShvat. The mission of the early Zionists was to see the Jewish homeland restored and the desert bloom, believing in the fulfillment of God’s promise to Israel’s land and her people.

Tu BiShvat was celebrated both then and now by planting trees in farms and communities. Taking root in the Holy Land and stewarding creation.

At the heart of this holiday is the promise of restoration.

Creation and Attachment | All Things Held Together

Ever since Satan fell from heaven he has assaulted the earth. In his hatred for life and the Life-Giver, he seeks to de-create, and ultimately desecrate what was made to be beautiful.

2 Thessalonians 2 refers to the Holy Spirit as “the Restrainer” or “One Who Restrains”.

And Colossians 1:16-17 tell us this about Jesus, 

“All things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together

Hebrews 1:2-3 says:

“Through the Son [God] created the universe…and He sustains everything by the mighty power of His command.” 

Despite the enemy seeking to steal, kill, and destroy, God is restraining the full sway of evil, sustaining everything and holding all things together. That is an incredibly comforting thought. 

In a world experiencing fragmentation, and an assault on creation itself, the tradition of Tu BiShvat is a life-giving practice. It not only is environmentally responsible as stewards of God’s creation, but it prophetically speaks to the renewal of all things and God’s sustaining power. As the enemy roars about seeking to “un-make” what has been made, planting trees is a sign of life and resilience. 

The Zionist movement embraced Tu BiShvat because they believe in God’s attachment to the land of Israel and the Jewish people, through covenant. He is the Life Source of Israel, by His own choosing. He is the Life Source of His creation “holding all things together”. God promises that life wins. The story that started in a garden with two trees will come full circle with restoration, and the Tree of Life, “whose leaves are for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:2). 

When Is Tu BiShvat?

Tu BiShvat is celebrated on the 15th of Shevat on the Hebrew calendar which in 2024 coincides with January 25th.

Isn’t it interesting that the celebration of growth and life falls on our Western calendar during a time when many of us are still shoveling snow or at least trying to keep warm? We don’t tend to think of January as a season of blooming. 

However, we can think of the cold month as a time when seeds are planted and will grow into lush, green foliage, ready to be seen as soon as the snow melts.

Tu BiShvat comes at a time of the year when the winter rains have typically ended in Israel, signaling a season of new life—a season when a new cycle of tree growth and fruit bearing begins! Thus, it is not only a time to plant new trees but also a time when established trees are ready to begin bearing fruit.

Where Is Tu BiShvat Celebrated?

Tu BiShvat is celebrated by many around the world. Although typically observed by Jewish people, many Christians have come to understand the significance of this holiday as it relates to their spiritual heritage and God’s call for us to be good stewards of the land, and His promise of restoration in our lives and the world.

Tu BiShvat is also celebrated in Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Planting as a Sign of Abundance

Trees give air, life and if well tended to, they are fruitful. They speak of God’s abundance and His generosity. 

Remember Jesus’ words in John 10:10,

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

God not only sustains and restores but He is abundant in how He does so. He is generous in all He offers. In Jewish tradition, the planting of a tree on Tu BiShvat is a sign of just that: abundance for the new year. 

Historically this custom dates back to the Second Temple period when Tu BiShvat was used as the cut-off day for levying the tithe on the produce of fruit trees. The practice was resumed in the 1930s as Jewish people fled to the land of Israel as an escape from Nazi Germany. Although they would leave war-torn Europe, the barren wasteland that they inherited would be in desperate need of new life when they arrived.

During that time, and still to this day, planting trees and revitalizing the land is of the utmost importance to the Jewish people. In fact, it has become customary to plant a tree for every newborn baby—a cypress or pine is often planted for a girl, and a cedar is planted for a boy.

In the face of devastation, the Jewish people have always experienced the sustaining power of God and the gift of abundance in return for what had been stolen. It is the Father-heart of God for humanity. In times of grief and pain, trusting in this is a lifeline.

Restoration and Resilience | The Message of Tu BiShvat

In the midst of all the trees cut down, burned, ravaged by natural disaster, war and human carelessness… somewhere, someone is planting a new one. 

And you can know that on the 25th of January, that will be true in Israel; a sign of resilience and restoration coming from a land again torn by war but held together by the mighty command of her God.

May the promise of restoration come alive in your heart this year. God promises to make creation new. And to make you a new creation.

He’s holding the pieces of your life together, sustaining you by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3). Life wins because Yeshua won for you. 

In Him is Life, and His life is the light of all people. (John 1:4)

Celebrate Tu BiShvat with us by sponsoring an olive tree in the land of Israel. Each tree sponsored represents a heart that is rooted in the foundations of our faith, the promise of a homeland for the Jewish people, and hope for a season of new life in 2024!