Level: Junior High
1. Play the song and have the class brainstorm as much information about Tu Bishvat as they can from what they hear. (Optional:hand out the lyrics)
2. Tell the class that Tu Bishvat is the 15th of Shvat. It is one of the Rosh Hashanas mentioned in the Rosh Hashanah Mishna 1:1. We have a New Year for trees because certain mitzvot it the Torah make it important to know the age of the trees eg. Tithing-we give a tenth of the fruit produced by the tree to the poor and the year begins and ends with Tu Bishvat. (Tosefta 7:4:20). Another example is Orla - we do not eat a trees fruit until it is three years old or has passed three Tu Bishvats.
It is not a holiday with issues of melacha, simcha, special prayers or food. But no Tachanun is said and no eulogies are made.
It is customary to eat fruits from Israel and plant trees in Israel.
3. The Ari Hakadosh (Rabbi Yitzchak Luria) a 15th Century Sephardic Kabbalist was the first person to observe a Tu Bishvat Seder. Has anyone ever been to one? What is it? It is an opportunity to learn, sing and celebrate the great miracle of trees and their fruits.
4. Together with the class decide what elements your seder should have (and ultimately run one). A Tu Bishvat seder can mirror a Pesach seder.
The 4 questions
4 cups of wine - different degrees of red and white wine mixed to represent the seasons
7 species - learning and eating
New fruits not yet eaten this year
Blessings - haetz, shehecheyanu, mezonot, grace after meals (al hamichya), personal blessings that the class makes up
Singing - Hinay Matov, Eretz Zavat Chalav Udevash, Eitz Chaim Hi….
5. In groups give the students sources (see end of lesson plan) and have them put together their own seder. They can find their own sources or use the ones you provide. They can also decide on their own order as long as they include all of the elements of a Tu Bishvat seder and connect them with speaking parts and singing.
The class will vote on the best seder to use for the communal class seder to run on Tu Bishvat (if possible).
The Book Of Our Heritage(Shvat) by Eliyahu Kitov
"Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai said 'If you should be standing with a sapling in your hand when the Messiah arrives first finish planting the tree, then go and greet the Messiah.'" (Talmud)
Mishna Rosh Hashana 1:1
Wheat - Bereishit Rabba 15 - Rabbi Meir said the Tree of Knowledge was actually wheat.
Barley - Melachim Bet 4:42-44
Vine - Shmot Rabba 44
Fig - Mentioned with the vine sixteen times in the Bible as most important fruit of Eretz Yisrael. Also Melachim Aleph 5:5