Tu Bishvat Seder Text
A KABALISTIC BLESSING OVER FRUIT
"May it be God's will that by the power vested in the blessing and eating of these fruits, and by contemplating the secrets of their roots, by which we will receive God's blessing, charity and abundance; may God make them grow and prosper throughout the year for goodness and blessings, for a good life and for peace." (Etz Pri Hadar).
THE FOUR CUPS OF WINE
Like the Passover seder, the Tu Bishvat seder has four cups of wine. Red and white wines are combined in varying shades of color; white symbolizing the potential for growth (winter), and red symbolizing full growth (summer).
First Cup: Kiddush is made with white wine, representing the snow on Mount Hermon and the cold winter season.
Second Cup: ⅓ red wine, ⅔ white wine, representing the beginning of spring.
Third Cup: ½white wine, ½ red wine, representing spring with half rainy days and half sunny days.
Fourth Cup: All red wine, symbolizing the summer, the hot days that end the agricultural season.
THE FORMAL BLESSING OVER FRUIT: "Baruch Ata Adonai Eloheynu Melech Ha'Olam, Borei Pri Ha'Etz. - Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, who creates the fruit of the Tree."
WHEAT – OR BREAD: "Rabbi Judah said, "An infant cannot say "father" and "mother" until it has tasted wheat (bread)." We deduce that from the moment a child eats bread, he is considered to understand. Thus wheat symbolizes knowledge itself. (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin, 70b).
BARLEY: "Rabbi Judah son of Simon commented that Boaz measured six measures of barley for Ruth the Moabitess (Ruth 3:15). As his reward, Boaz was privileged to have six righteous men as descendants, namely, David, Hezekia, Josiah, Hanania, Mishael & Azaria, Daniel and the King Messiah, David" (Midrash Rabba, Ruth 7:2).
GRAPES: "Why is Israel compared to a grape vine? Just as when its owner seeks to improve it, he uproots it and plants it elsewhere and then indeed it flourishes. Similarly, when God intended to make Israel's fame known throughout the world, what did He do? He uprooted them from Egypt, brought them into the wilderness, where they began to improve. They received the Torah and their reputation spread throughout the world." (Midrash Rabba, Exodus 44:1).
FIGS: "Why was the Torah likened to a fig tree? Because, while the fruit of most other tree – the olive, the vine and the date – is gathered all at once, that of the fig tee is gathered little by little. It is the same with the Torah. One gathers a little learning today and much tomorrow, for it cannot be learned in one year or in two years." (Midrash Rabba, Numbers 21:15).
POMEGRANATES: "Rabbi Meir found a pomegranate; he ate the fruit and threw away the peel. This is to teach us to differentiate between the main thing and things of secondary importance." (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Hagiga, 15b).
OLIVES: "Why is Israel compared to an olive? To tell you that just as the olive produces its oil only after being pounded, so Israel returns to the right way only after suffering." (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Menachot, 53b).
DATES: "Why is Israel compare to the date palm? There is no waste in any part of the date-palm. The dates are eaten, the lulav branches are used for Hallel prayer, the dried branches are used for thatch, the fibres for rope, the leaves for sieves and the planed boards for roofing. So it is with Israel that none is worthless in Israel. (Midrash Rabba, Genesis 41:1).
EAT LOTS OF FRUIT: It is the custom of some to eat 15 types of fruit on Tu BiShvat, while others eat of the Seven Species with which the Land of Israel is blessed. It is the custom of many, however, to partake of fresh fruit, dried fruit, cooked and preserved fruits, to the number of fifty, while others partake of 100 types! (Rabbi Haim Flaji, The Appointed Festivals for All Living, 654b).
THE TREES ARE HAPPY
What do the trees of the field say? "Then shall all the trees of the wood sing for joy! Before the Lord ... for He is come to judge the earth." (Psalms 96:12).