Jan 15, 2014

Tu B’Shvat Bounty

Tu B'Shvat is the New Year for the purpose of calculating the age of trees for “orlah.”   The fruit from new trees may not be eaten during the first three years; the fourth year's fruit is brought to Yerushalayim and after that, you can eat the fruit. Each tree is considered to have aged one year as of Tu B'Shvat, so if you planted a tree on the 14th of Shevat, it begins it second year the next day, but if you plant a tree two days later, on Shevat 16, it does not reach its second year until the next Tu B'Shvat.

Tu B'Shvat is not mentioned in the Torah.  The only reference to it is a dispute between Bais Hillel and Bais Shamai as to the proper date for the holiday.  Bais Shamai says it should be Rosh Chodesh Shvat while Bais Hillel says the proper date is the fifteenth.  As with other decisions, we follow the ruling of Bais Hillel.

There are only a few customs or observances related to Tu B’Shvat. One custom is to eat a new fruit on this day. Others eat fruits of the Shivas Haminim.   In Eretz Yisrael some people plant trees on this day.

The gematria of “eitz pri” is the same as that of the Hebrew word “shefa.”  While eating our fruit, it behooves us to remember the bounty of Hakadosh Baruch Hu and be thankful for all that we receive.

Some people say a special t’fila on this day for a beautiful esrog for next Succos.  In addition, many eat jam or compote made from the esrog that they used this past Succos.  It is considered a healing food and has much mystical significance.

The shivas haminim also refer to many aspects of the home and family life.  Wheat brings to mind shalom bayis as it says (tehilim 147) “hasum gevulaych shalom chaylev chitim yasbaych.   Also in tehilim (128) it refers to one’s wife as a “gefen poriah” and one’s children as “shisilei zaisim,” once again comparing the family to the fruits of Eretz Yisrael.  The hidden tasty seeds of the pomegranate reminds us of the pasuk “kol kvuda bas melech pnima” and d’vash is reminiscent of young children learning as it says “d’vash v’chalav tachas l’shonaych.”

There are many “new years” on our calendars.  It is interesting to note that the only ones that are celebrated are those of Rosh Hashanah and Tu B’Shvat.  The significance of the trees’ New Year must be as great as that of our new year in the eyes of Hashem.  Many people are nohaig to learn Meseches Rosh Hashanah on Tu B’Shvat as well as the halachos of orlah.

Try this salad for Tu B’Shvat this year:
Pomegranate Dressed Salad

1 bag romaine hearts
1 cup pomegranate seeds
2 apples, cut in chunks, Pink Lady or Honey Crisp
10-12 dried figs, quartered
½ cup slivered almonds, toasted

1/4 cup pomegranate juice
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup olive oil

Place salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine.

Put pomegranate juice, mayonnaise, lemon, juice and sugar in your food processor. With the motor running, gradually drizzle in the olive oil until the dressing is combined and thick.

Dress salad and serve immediately.

Our recipes below put to use some of the shivas haminim in delicious, easy desserts for your family.

Roasted Bosc Pears with Pomegranate Glaze

for the glaze:
¾ cup dry red wine
¾ cup pomegranate juice
½ cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2 teaspoons grated orange peel

for the pears:
6 Bosc pears with stems, peeled
vanilla ice cream (pareve or milchig)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium saucepan, stir wine, pomegranate juice, sugar, cinnamon stick and orange peel until sugar dissolves, about three minutes. 

Core pears from the bottom end using a small melon baler.  Trim the bottoms flat and stand pears upright in a 9” baking dish.  Pour wine sauce over pears and roast for one hour, basting every 20 minutes.  Pears should be tender when pierced with a knife.  Using a spatula, transfer the pears to a serving platter.  Pour juices into a small saucepan and simmer to reduce to 2/3 cup, about 5 minutes.

Spoon glaze over pears.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Today we have access to endless amounts of fresh fruit.  In years past most fruit eaten on Tu B’Shvat was prepared and dried during the summer.  We keep up this tradition of eating dried fruit as well.  This recipe uses both fresh and dried for maximum fruit flavor.


1 orange
1 cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
½ vanilla bean, split
3 ½ cups water
4 large ripe Anjou or Bosc pears, peeled, cored and cut into wedges
4 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and cut into wedges
1 cup dried cranberries (craisins)
6 ounces dried peaches, cut in half

Peel 3 strips of zest from orange using a vegetable peeler.  Squeeze ½ cup juice from the orange.  Set aside.

In a large saucepan, place sugar, cinnamon sticks, vanilla bean, orange peel, and 3½ cups water.   Heat to boiling over high heat and stir until sugar dissolves.  Reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add apples and pears to syrup and heat to boiling.  Reduce heat and simmer 8-10 minutes until fruit is tender.  Stir in craisins and peaches and cook 2 minutes longer.  Stir in orange juice.  Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to 3 days to allow flavors to blend.



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