The Rain Came Down

Chodesh Tov! Today begins the Hebrew month of Shevat.


CalendarJan 16, 2018

CalendarJan 16, 2018


    Photo by Nikolay Zakharov on Unsplash

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Rabbi Simeon bar Yochai said: Three things are equal in importance, viz., earth, man, and rain. Rabbi Levi bar Hiyyatha said: And these three each consist of three letters, 3 to teach that without earth there would be no rain and without rain, earth could not endure; while without either man could not exist. (Genesis Rabbah 13:3)

Shevat is the fifth month of the civil calendar and the eleventh on the religious calendar. The name of the month appears to be Akkadian and comes from a word meaning "strike," which is a reference to the heavy rains that fall in Israel at this time of year. The month is mentioned by name in Zechariah 1:7.

Along with heavy rains that nourish the soil in preparation for the spring crops, Shevat is also associated with trees. On the fifteenth of Shevat, Tu Bishvat occurs — the New Year of the Trees. Along with a special seder, many people take this time to renew their dedication to protecting the environment and an overall appreciation for nature in general. Additionally, Moses passed away on Adar 7, so Jewish tradition teaches that he spent the month of Shevat to give his last instructions and warnings to the people. He also is said to have translated the Torah into seventy languages during Shevat. [1]

Here is a full list of biblical events occurring in Shevat:

  • 15th - Tu Bishvat (New Year of the Trees)
  • 20th - Birth of Asher (traditional: Genesis 30:12-13)
  • 23rd - War against the tribe of Benjamin (Traditional: Judges 19:40-20:48)
  • 24th - Zechariah sees a vision of rider among myrtle trees (Zechariah 1:17)
  • 24th - Death of Messianic Jewish luminary Rav Yechiel Lichtenstein (1912)
  • 26th - Yeshua and the half-shekel tax story (possible date: Matthew 17:24-27)

Perhaps you have never heard of Tu Bishvat, and have no idea about how to celebrate it. That's okay! First Fruits of Zion has a great resource for you. In our resource Plant, you will learn all about the holiday of Tu Bishvat.

If you would like to host a Tu Bishvat seder check out our Tu Bishvat Haggadah: Bloom. It's full of ideas about how to make the occasion a special celebration of creation and the Creator!

Chodesh Tov!

Footnotes:
  1. Mordechai Lightstone, "8 Facts About the Hebrew Month of Shevat," n.p. [Cited 11 December 2017]. Online: http://www.chabad.org/theJewishWoman/article_cdo/aid/2835457/jewish/8-Facts-About-the-Hebrew-Month-of-Shevat.htm
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About the Author: Toby Janicki is the main teacher and Camp Dad for the 12-21 youth initiative, as well as a teacher and writer for First Fruits of Zion. He is also the Communications Coordinator for the Torah Club program and has authored several books including God-Fearers and a comprehensive commentary on the Didache titled: The Way of Life. More articles by Toby Janicki

Related Resource

Bloom, A Tu Bishvat Haggadah

Tu Bishvat, the New Year for Trees, is a beautiful time to herald new life after a long and dormant winter. In the seventeenth century, a new custom arose to celebrate Tu Bishvat with a seder. This haggadah is inspired by the story of the early pioneers of the modern State of Israel.

Available in Book and eBook (PDF) formats.