As winter drones on, one often feels that the cold will never end. Thoughts of the warm sunshine seem like a distant memory. For those in more snowy climates, cabin fever takes effect. In the Land of Israel, the winter season is somewhat different. At this time when there is plenty of rain, the hills and fields all over the country turn a lush and emarald green as some new crops appear. Grasses and weeds also flourish and can turn the dry and arid landscapes into beautiful fields of green.
As we enter into the month of Shevat, particularly in the Land of Israel, we know that winter is slowly coming to an end. The rainy season in Israel is almost over by Shevat and life begins to emerge back into the treees once again.
It was for this reason that the sages of old declared Tu B'Shevat (15th of Shevat) as a New Year. Not in the sense that the calendar starts over or the years change. Rather, Tu B'Shevat is a new year for trees. The Torah requires that the fruit of trees planted in the Land of Israel remain forbidden for three years (Lev. 19:23-25). Instead of counting the years for each individual tree, all trees were given a singular date which they would be counted from.
Another date of significance during this month is the 1st day of the eleventh month (Shevat). It was on this date that Moses began his giving of the Torah to the generation that would enter the Land of Promise (Deuteronomy 1:3). We have this teaching of Moses recorded in the book of Deuteronomy. Since the previous generation had perished in the wilderness, the next generation had to renew their covenant with God and accept his Torah as the rule of their lives.
There is a wonderful interconnection between trees, fruit and Torah described in Psalm 1:
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the Torah of the LORD, and in His Torah he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:1-3)
Like the generation crouched on the banks of the Jordan, we too must accept upon ourselves the ways of the Torah. For many, the Torah is not a family heirloom. The Torah is an ancient treasure that we have uncovered for ourselves; something our father's lost and did not realize it was theirs.
And yet, the Torah is not simply an item we can possess. Once we have discovered it, we must walk in it. We must root ourselves in the soil of the Word saturated by the water of the Spirit. When we do so, we find life. We bear fruit. We stand firm in the face of adversity. We become like trees. As we grow, we grow into the image of Yeshua the Messiah, the Tree of Life (Revelation 22:2).
May your month be filled with fruit and prosperity!