Question: Why is it necessary for us to know the date of the "New Year for Trees"?
Answer: The Hebrew calendar is set up according to a seven-year cycle. The seventh year is known as the year of the shemittah, during which the land lies fallow and no work in the fields. In the first, second, fourth and fifth years of the six-year cycle, the farmers have the "first tithe" to the Levitical tribe put aside, and the "second tithe" is brought to Jerusalem to be eaten. On the third and sixth year, "tithe for the poor 'is given instead of the second tithe.
Tithes must be given of fruit each year grows on the tree. One can not give the revenue of the current year for another year. For purposes of tithe from trees, the New Year is calculated from the time that the fruit of the trees beginning to bloom. Tu B'Shevat is the start date between one year and the next. In the year that follows the shemittah, fruits which blossomed before Tu BeShevat belong to the first year of the cycle, and fruits which blossom after Tu BeShevat belong to the second year of the cycle.
Question: What is the substance of the dispute between the House of Shamai and the House of Hillel regarding the date of the New Year for the trees?
Answer: The Mishnah states that on the festival of Sukkot, the world is judged with respect to water. This does not contradict the opinion in the Talmud that is judged the world on Rosh Hashana, because the judgment on Rosh Hashanah is general judgment that only creates the potential for water to be given. The detailed practical determination concerning the water takes place on Sukkot.
According to the Jerusalem Talmud is the meaning of the New Year that until then all trees live on the water from the previous year. After the first day of the month of Shevat the trees derive their life source from the water of the new year. Thus, the effect of the new water is four months after the period of the judgment.
The dispute between the schools of Shamai and Hillel concerns the significance of the potential and actual. For the House of Shamai the potential is of primary significance. Because the potential the judgment of water took place in the 1st of Tishrei, we celebrate four months later, the New Year for the trees when the potential begins for them to derive nurture from the waters which were four months ago in the judgment of the whole world.
However, according to the House of Hillel, preference is given to the actual. The actual decision is available on the 15th Tishrei place. Therefore, four months later, on the 15th of Shevat, the trees start of the new waters.
Question: The Torah states "Man is like the tree of the field". The Jewish people is often compared to different trees. What lesson can man learn from trees?
Answer: Trees teach us the following:
- A tree is planted by planting seed in the ground first. Thereafter, it is necessary to give the soil a regular water and to kill the weeds. In every jew planted a Divine seed-his soul. It is the duty of man to water it with Torah study and protect it from bad friends and influences.
- A healthy tree is growing on. A healthy jew must continuously grow spiritually. This can be achieved through studying Torah and its laws to comply.
- In order to ensure that a sapling right will grow it is supported on both sides. To ensure that a child grows, parents should stand by his side and constantly supervise him.
- The strength of the tree depends on how well it is rooted in the ground. The root of the jew is his faith.
- The beauty of a tree is the fruit it produces. Mitzvot and good deeds are the fruits of man.
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