Celebrating God’s Future Blessings

Yael Eckstein  |  February 5, 2023

dawn of a new day

Truly you are a God who has been hiding himself,
   the God and Savior of Israel.
—Isaiah 45:15

Today is Tu B’Shvat, the New Year of the Trees. This day celebrates the beginning of new life in trees when the sap begins to rise and is a celebration with many spiritual lessons.

There’s a story in the Talmud about a group of rabbis who were walking in Jerusalem a few years after the destruction of the Second Temple. As they surveyed the rubble where the House of God had recently stood, they saw a wolf emerging from the place where the Holy of Holies, the innermost chamber of the Temple had been.

All the rabbis began to cry, except one. Rabbi Akiva, the greatest of the rabbis of the time, was smiling and laughing. The other rabbis were shocked. “Rabbi Akiva, why are you laughing?” “Why am I laughing? Why are you crying?”

The rabbis replied, “Rabbi Akiva, we are crying because the verse in Lamentations has been fulfilled, ‘for Mount Zion, which lies desolate, with jackals prowling over it’” (Lamentations 5:18).

“That’s precisely why I am laughing,” he replied. “For if the prophecies of the destruction have been fulfilled so exactly, we already know that the prophecies of the redemption will be fulfilled as well.”

Celebrating God’s Future Blessings

At a time when nothing in the visible reality looked promising, Rabbi Akiva was already rejoicing in God’s future plan. I believe that this is what Isaiah meant when he wrote, “Truly you are a God who has been hiding himself, the God and Savior of Israel.”

And this is the message of Tu B’Shvat, the Jewish New Year of Trees, which is celebrated today. It is a day celebrating God’s future blessings. Let me explain.

The rabbis taught that each year we are to commemorate the new year for fruit trees on the 15th of the month of Shevat. This may seem strange, as it is the dead of winter and the fruit trees in Israel are many months away from bearing their fruit.

But the rabbis explained that at this time of year, under the ground, the process of nurturing the roots of the trees that will eventually lead to the summer fruit begins. We can’t see it on the surface, but beyond what we can see, the fruit is already growing.

On Tu B’Shvat, we rejoice over the new fruit months before we will see it. So, too, we must rejoice in God’s redemption, even though we can’t see it yet. In both instances, we are celebrating God’s future blessings to come!

After all, God’s plan is a certainty, and its fruit is already growing within each of us as we faithfully do His will.

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Discover more spiritual lessons tied to this unique holy day at our Learn Center.