Tu Bishvat is the Jewish holiday that signifies the new year for trees. This date has important implications regarding fruit-related commandments such as tithes.
Today in the Jewish community we celebrate Tu Bishvat by eating fruit. Some have the custom of holding a seder, a ceremonial meal, in honor of the day. Like at Passover, it is common to drink four cups of wine at this meal. But on Tu Bishvat, our first cup is white wine symbolizing unrealized potential; as the meal progresses we darken our cups with red wine, illustrating maturation and the fulfillment of God’s promises.
Vine of David offers a Haggadah for Tu Bishvat entitled Bloom. Bloom utilizes the Tu Bishvat seder to focus on the first flowering of the ultimate redemption seen in the establishment of the modern State of Israel. White wine thus represents the condition of the land prior to its revitalization with the Zionist movement:
Leader: Let us join together and prepare to partake of the four cups of wine and the fruits indigenous to the Holy Land of Israel.
The first cup of wine is completely white. This symbolizes the winter season when the trees are bare of any foliage and have gone into hibernation; it is the time when all is frozen and dormant.
Participant : This reminds us of the centuries of desolation in the land of Israel, from the time of our Master’s apostles until the mid-1800s, when Zion’s children began to return.
At that time, as Mark Twain describes, Israel was “a desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds … a silent mournful expanse … a desolation … we never saw a human being on the whole route … hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.”
Leader: The Hebrew word asiyah (עֲשִׂיָּה) means, “making” and it represents the physical world in which we live. It is a picture of basic existence, the work of the Creator’s hands: the seas, the land, and the creatures that he made.
Participant: This reminds us that even when God’s ways are concealed—when the world lies dormant and all seems barren, frigid, and lifeless—the potential for growth and life abounds beneath the surface. Our Father has plans and promises for his creation.
Today, the State of Israel has flourished and prospered, bringing the barren desert to full bloom. Nonetheless, the redemption is not yet. We still await the time when Yeshua our Messiah will arrive and Israel and all kingdoms will be subject to him. At that time, “the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield its increase, and they shall be secure in their land” (Ezekiel 34:27). Yeshua will hold a cup of red wine in his hand, bless the Creator, and we will drink it new with him in his Father’s kingdom.