This coming Sunday evening, January 16th through Monday, January 17th is Tu B’Shevat.
The Tu is not a misspelling of two, but stands for the two Hebrew letters “tet” and “vav”, which have the numerical value of 15, so Tu B’Shevat means the 15th of the Hebrew month of Shevat.
This day is the New Year for trees and is considered a mini holiday.
It has no work restrictions, but we don’t say the Tachnun prayer in the Morning Services (skip pages 124-136 in ArtScroll Prayerbook) and in the Afternoon Services (skip 250 through top of 252).
It is customary to increase the consumption of fruit on Tu B’Shevat to thank the Almighty for the abundance, variety, beauty and tastes He blessed us with.
Fruits gets the “Haetz” blessing.
In Jewish law, a fruit is defined as something growing from a perennial tree that does not renew its stem and does not grow too close to the ground. Thus, apples, grapes, nuts (except peanuts) and figs are fruit, but strawberries, watermelon and bananas are not.
The blessing for fruit is:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֶלֹקֵֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם בּורֵא פְרִי הָעֵץ
Baruch Ata A-donay, Elo-heinu Melech Ha’Olam borei pri ha-aitz.
Blessed are you, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the tree.
For a “new” fruit – if one hasn’t eaten this fruit within the last year, then one should also add the Shehechiyanu blessing.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ אֱלֹקֵינוּ מֱלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם שֶהֶחֱיֳנוּ וְקִיְמֳנוּ וְהִגִִּיעֳנוּ לַזְמַן הַזֶּה
Baruch Ata Ad-onoy E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ha-olom
She-heh-che-yah-nu, Ve-ki-yi-ma-nu, Ve-he-gi-ah-nu, laz-man-Ha-zeh
Blessed are you, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who has kept us alive, and has preserved us, and enabled us to reach this season.
The after-blessing for the special species of grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, or dates is found on page 200-201 in the ArtScroll Prayerbook.
For all other fruit, the after-blessing is found on top of page 202-203.
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Rabbi Avrohom Czapnik