Tu BiShvat Seder – 5781 (Covid 19 Edition) part 3 of 5

2.Olive – זית

The leader says:

We now eat fruits with inedible pits. For example: dates, olives, peaches, plums, cherries.

The edible parts of the fruit represent holiness. Pits represent impurities which have penetrated the holiness.

G-d called your name “a green olive tree, nice and beautiful fruit.” (Yirmiyahu 11:16)

זַ֚יִת רַֽעֲנָן֙ יְפֵ֣ה פְרִי תֹ֔אַר קָרָ֥א ה’ שְׁמֵ֑ךְ לְק֣וֹל  הֲמוּלָּ֣ה גְדֹלָ֗ה הִצִּ֥ית אֵשׁ֙ עָלֶ֔יהָ וְרָע֖וּ דָּלִיּוֹתָֽיו:

A leafy olive tree fair with goodly fruit, has Hashem called your name; to the sound of a great tumult, He has kindled fire upon it, and they have broken its branches.

Your children shall be like olive plants around your table (Psalms 128:3).

אשתך כגפן פריה בירכתי ביתך, בנך כשתלי זתים סביב לשלחנך.

Your wife will be like a vine fruitful in the inner chambers of your home your children will be like shoots of olive trees surrounding your table.

Rabbi Yehoshuah Ben Levi said: Why is Israel compared to an olive tree? Because just as the leaves of an olive tree do not fall off either in summer or winter, so too the Jewish people shall not be cast off – neither in this world nor in the World to Come. (Talmud – Menachos 53b)

The Sages taught: Just as olive oil brings light into the world, so do the people of Israel bring light into the world. (Midrash – Shir HaShirim Raba 1:2)


3.Dates – תמרים

The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree (Psalms 92:13). The righteous are fruitful and sweet, just like a date palm.

צדיק כתמר יפרח כארז בלבנון ישגה:

A righteous man like a date palm will flourish like a cedar in Lebanon he will grow tall.

Your stature is like a palm tree (Shir HaShirim 7:8) just as the palm tree doesn’t bend or sway, so too the Jewish people.

את קֽוֹמָתֵךְ֙ דָּֽמְתָ֣ה לְתָמָ֔ר וְשָׁדַ֖יִךְ לְאַשְׁכֹּלֽוֹת:

This, your stature, is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like clusters [of dates].

No part of the palm tree is wasted. The dates are for eating; the Lulav branches are for waving in praise on Sukkos; the dried thatch is for roofing; the fibers are for ropes; the leaves are for sieves; and the trunk is for house beams. So too, every one of the Jewish people is needed. Some are knowledgeable in Tanach, others in Mishnah, others in Aggadisa. Still others perform many mitzvos, and others give much tzedakah. (Midrash – Bamidbar Raba 3:1)

כוונות שם ה’ – יהה”ו – יתהלל המתהלל השכל וידע

4.Grape – גפן

Just as a vine has large and small clusters and the large ones hang lower, so too the Jewish people: Whoever labors in Torah and is greater in Torah, seems lower than his fellow [due to his humility] (Midrash – Vayikra Rabbah 36:2).

תלמוד בבלי, פסחים, מט עמוד א

תנו רבנן: לעולם ימכור אדם כל מה שיש לו, וישא בת תלמיד חכם, וישיא בתו לתלמיד חכם. משל, לענבי הגפן בענבי הגפן, דבר נאה ומתקבל.

The Rabbis taught in a Baraisa: A man should always be prepared to sell all he owns and marry the daughter of a Torah scholar, or marry off his own daughter to a Torah scholar. Such a union, bears an analogy to a combination of the grapes of a vine with the grapes of another vine, which is something fine and acceptable ( Talmud Bavli, Pesachim 49a).

Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach would explain why we sing the above gemarrah quote at weddings. This is to show the Chassan and Kallah that they are like grape vines. Grapes vines cannot stand on their own, they need to be supported. So too we need to realize that where we come from and what supports us: our history, our land, our parents, and our Torah.

כיצד מרקדין ליפני הכלה

ענבי הגפן, בענבי הגפן, דבר נאה ומתקבל

כיצד מרקדין ליפני הכלה

כלה נאה וחסודה

Wine – יין

At the Tu B’Shvat seder, it is traditional to drink four cups of wine, similar to the Pesach seder.

  • First Cup – pure white – אצילות – (72) – ע”ב
  • Second Cup – pale pink (white with a drop of red wine) – בריאה – (63) – ס”ג
  • Third Cup – darker pink (with more red added) – יצירה – (45) – מ”ה
  • Fourth Cup – mostly red (with only a drop of white) – עשיה – (52) – ב”ן

White wine represents nature in potential. Red wine represents nature in full bloom. On this day, we begin to leave the winter behind and move into a period of renewal and life.

It is stated in the Zohar: Wine has two colors – white and red. White is from the right side of the sefiros tree [kindness חסד]; red from the left side [strength גבורה and judgment דין ].

As we progress from white to red, we move from potential to actuality. We are able to appreciate God’s judgment as well as His kindness. We see God’s design and goodness in the world with increasing clarity.

Wine rejoices the heart of man. This refers to the wine of Torah. יין (gematria wine) equals 70, the numerical value of סוד, meaning secret. [Wine represents the hidden aspects of the Torah] ( Zohar – Parshas Pinchas).

תלמוד בבלי, סנהדרין לח עמוד א

נכנס יין יוצא סוד

Wine enters, the secret exits.

The Talmudic section dealing with agriculture is called trust in G-d. When a farmer plants a seed, trust in G-d gives him the strength to survive the winter. On Tu B’Shvat he begins to see that trust rewarded.

Similarly, when we plant a seed for personal growth, it requires trust and patience to survive the ‘cold,’ before we see the fruits of our labor.

We will now drink the first of the four cups of wine (or grape juice) in conjunction with four different categories of fruit. Each of these pairs corresponds to each of the four spiritual realms עולמות(from highest to lowest אבי”ע):

  • Emanation of pure Godliness – אצילות – ע”ב
  • Creation – בריאה – ס”ג
  • Formation – יצירה – מ”ה
  • Action – עשיה – ב”ן

Each level becomes less spiritual more physical. As we eat, we bring down from above the sparks holiness of the fruits – and ourselves – through the various levels.

The Almighty said: Although wine can be a source of trouble in this world, in the future I shall make it only a source of joy, as it says: ‘And it shall come to pass on that day, that the mountains will drip with sweet wine’ (Amos 9:13). (Midrash – Vayikra Raba 12:5)

עמוס ט:יג

הִנֵּ֨ה יָמִ֚ים בָּאִים֙ נְאֻם ה’ וְנִגַּ֚שׁ חוֹרֵשׁ֙ בַּקֹּצֵ֔ר וְדֹרֵ֥ךְ עֲנָבִ֖ים בְּמֹשֵׁ֣ךְ הַזָּ֑רַע וְהִטִּ֚יפוּ הֶֽהָרִים֙ עָסִ֔יס וְכָל הַגְּבָע֖וֹת תִּתְמוֹגַֽגְנָה:

Behold days are coming, says Hashem, that the plowman shall meet the reaper and the treader of the grapes the one who carries the seed, and the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt.


Pour the 1st cup of wine (all white)


All say the following blessing, and then drink from the wine.

ברוך אתה ה, אלקינו מלך העולם, בורא פרי הגפן.

Increased in blessing are you G-d, King of the universe who creates the fruit of the vine.

Slow down and really enjoy the taste of the wine. There’s a lot to appreciate in life.

כוונות: שם ה’ : ע”ב )72) = יוד (20) הי (15) ויו (22) הי (15) – אצילות

יוה”ה – ידתיו ולצלע המשכן השנית (שמות כו:כז)


5.Fig – תאנה

Rabbi Yochanan said: What is the meaning of ‘He who tends a fig tree will eat its fruit’ (Proverbs 27:18) ?

משלי כז: יח

נֹצֵ֣ר תְּ֖אֵנָה יֹאכַ֣ל פִּרְיָ֑הּ וְשֹׁמֵ֖ר אֲדֹנָ֣יו יְכֻבָּֽד:

He who guards a fig-tree shall eat its fruit, and he who guards his master shall be honored.

Also, why is the Torah compared to a fig tree?

Figs on a tree do not ripen all at once, but a little each day. Therefore, the longer one searches in the tree, the more figs he finds. So too with Torah: The more one studies, the more knowledge and wisdom one finds (Talmud – Eruvin 54a).

כוונות (מלכות) – שם ה’ – הוה”י – זה איננו שוה לי

(המן אמר משפט זה נגד מרדכי היהודי, אסתר ה:יג)

Now we eat fruits that are completely edible: This is the realm of creation (בריאה), the second highest level in the created world. The two lower worlds are עשיה, יצירה.

This is full potential. Even the seeds are now edible. They not only have future potential, but are also delicious and ready to eat right now. Think about an area of life you would like to improve.

About the Author
Arie E. Pelta, M.D., a Board Certified General and Colorectal Surgeon from the USA, made Aliyah with his wife and 7 children in 2013. He received his Rabbinical ordination in 1997. He is also an active Medical Corps Officer holding the rank of Captain in the IDF Reserves. Dr. Pelta is currently a full time Senior Surgeon practicing in Laniado Hospital (Netanya); specializing in the surgical care of all colorectal diseases.
Related Topics
Related Posts