Tu B'Shvat Seder
First of all let's start with a little introduction about Tu b'Shvat Seder. Tu b'Shvat is a symbol of New Year of Trees. According to Kabbalistic beliefs, Tu b'Shvat is a means of communicating with God. Kabbalists have always believed that trees have great spiritual power and can be used to understand the true working and growing spree of nature itself. Trees are considered to be one of the purest creation of God and in many old legends it is believed that Gods themselves reside in trees. This is why trees are considered to belong to a different realm than the one we live him. This makes trees the medium through which God can communicate with the physical and the spiritual world. Kabbalists from centuries have therefore used trees to communicate with God. The root is said to be the foundation of all spiritual power, it manifests this power to produce stem, branches and ultimately leaves. Roots still remain the highest power source for a tree that support its growth and balance of life.
Now, Tu b'Shvat seder simply means to enjoy the fruit produced by a tree. It originated in Israel and is followed by people native to Israel and Kabbalists. It is engaged with the beliefs and philosophies of these people and talk about the traditions and beliefs associated with day(signifying light). Tu b'Shvat seder also helps us to be truly thankful about the various rewards and gifts that life has in store for us. Mostly we take these gifts for granted because of their little importance. But Tu b'Shvat seder reminds us that we must not take these gifts for granted, they might be small but if we are not thankful for the small gifts, life would never present us with big enough gifts we are always looking forward to. Appreciating each and every tiny little thing about life is taught by the Tu b'Shvat seder and it is the "Way of God".
The Tu b'Shvat seder discussed here is totally based on Kabbalistic beliefs and traditions. You can enjoy the spiritual experience of the Tu b'Shvat seder at your own home. A small preparation is provided to help you prepare it at your home and have the privilege of experiencing it's pleasure.
Instructions to prepare Tu b'Shvat seder: Well, if you are thinking about preparing Tu b'Shvat seder at home then you will be requiring a few items. Here a list of items that you will be requiring:
1) dates, olives, grapes, pomegranates, figs, wheat and barley- These symbolize the seven praised species of Israel
2)You will be requiring nuts and fruits. The nuts should be of the kind that has shells, and fruits should be of kind that can be peeled. You can use walnuts, coconuts, pistachios, almonds etc in nuts and orange, avocado, etc in fruits.
3)The next requirement is fruits with inedible pits like plums or peaches.
4)Now go for fruits with edible pits like blueberries.
5)Wine is required. It can be either red or white. If you are unable to arrange wine then you can go for grape juice.
6)A charity box.
If due to some case you are unable to find any ingredient then yo should proceed with whatever you have. Another important thing to keep in mind is that your fruits and nuts should all be free from bugs, so its better if you check them all before starting. You can simply cut them in two from middle and make sure that they are clean. As eating a big is not acceptable in Kabbalah you have to take this measure. Now you are almost ready to proceed.
The Ceremony: The instructions to make the Tu b'Shvat seder have been provided now it is time to tell how you will be proceeding with the seder ceremony. There has to be a leader of the ceremony. The Leader asks all the members present at the table, that what is the reason for celebrating Tu b'Shvat seder. For this members answers that this is because, the Holy Temple at Jerusalem was destroyed and along with the the holy fruit of "Bikkurim". It was the first fruit as it cannot be offered to God anymore, so we offer the fruits from our lips( the fruits they tasted). After this one participant says, that Tu b'Shvat seder signifies the kind of act of giving to the poor. This sentence signifies that we should willingly do charity. This would be the right time to circulate the charity box known as "pushka", all around the table so collect some money and later give it to the poor. You give charity to the poor and help in feeding them just like gifts of God. Lastly a member has to say, that Tu b'Shvat seder signifies the New Year of the TREE. Here the "TREE" signifies the tree of knowledge In the Garden of Eden (Heaven).
Then we proceed to the next step that is meditation. Meditation in the sense that you should feel like you are eating on a table set before God. Think that you are sitting at his table and you are eating in his company. Let that spiritual feeling drain you.
The next step is to have discussions over aspects of Tu b'Shvat seder. You can have discussions like what is the true nature of a vegetarian? How is a vegetarian superior than a non vegetarian(in terms of spirituality)? Adam and Eve were only allowed to eat fruits, only after Noah's flood meat was made acceptable for eating. You can discuss about the two trees in Eden, The Tree of Life and The Tree of Knowledge of both Good and Evil, how do different members interpret it.
This discussion continues and leads to in taking of the cake or cereal that is the wheat and barley that you have collected.
Then you can proceed to fruits. The Fruits will be eaten in a particular order, this order is olives, dates, grapes, figs, pomegranates. Each fruit has its own significance and their significance will be read out loud before they are consumed by the members.
The next step is wine tasting. There will be four cups of wine pure white, pale pink, dark pink and red. They will be drunk in order. The four cups signify different realms of the world and this will be discussed among all. First cup is consumed first followed by eating of the fruits with inedible pits. Then the rest of the three cups of wine are consumed followed by eating of the fruits with edible pits. The last step is conclusion in which you will thank God for all his gifts of life.
Now you are ready to go through this seder. You will easily find the passages to read on a traditional Tu b'Shvat seder online.