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  • Issue: Januari 1975
  • Designer: A. Kalderon
  • Stamp size: 25.7 x 40 mm
  • Plate no.: 431 - 433
  • Sheet of 15 stamps Tabs: 5
  • Printers: E. Lewin-Epstein Ltd.
  • Method of printing: Photolithography

TU B'SHEVAT - The Fifteenth of the Hebrew Month of Shevat - is the traditional New Year for trees. Shevat falls during Israel's first days of spring, usually coinciding with the heavy rains of February, when the sap begins to rise and freshly-planted saplings stand the best chance of survival.

Although not among the festivals mentioned in the Bible, Tu B'Shevat's origin is rooted in the distant past, when the children of Israel settled in their own country and became farmers and husbandmen. Tithes of products and livestock formed an essential part of taxation, and the Mishna, in the section "Ma'aseroth (Tithes)," discusses in great detail the payment of tithes and to whom they are due.

The exact date of such reckonings, however, was confirmed only in the later period of the Second Temple. Beit Hillel and Beit Shammal, the two leading families of that era, could not agree on the specific day, but the Mishna, in the section "Rosh HaShana (New Year)," chapter 1, verse 1, relates that "the first of Shevat is the New Year for trees (so the School of Shammal; and the School of Hillel says: On the 15th thereof)." This was finally chosen.

While it was customary not to fast on Tu B'Shevat, it did not become an accepted festival until the time of the sixteenth century Rabbi Isaac Luria - Ha'Arie - of Zefat. He and his disciples gradually developed the ceremony in which families and friends would sit around a table bearing at least 15 - in some communities, up to 50 - species of the products of the Holy Land. Four glasses of wine would be drunk, and appropriate prayers and poems recited.

Jews in the Diaspora quickly adopted the same pattern, forming an extra bond between them and their brothers in the Yishuv, while yet another link was forged linking them both to their forefathers who lived in and tilled the soil of the Promised Land generations ago.

Tu B'Shevat expressed particularly as a festival of planting to restore fertility to 5,,e Land of the Book, appears to have been officially initiated in 1908, when the Jewish Teachers' Association of Palestine met in the Agricultural School of Miqweh Yisrael, and carried out a mass planting of saplings there on Tu B'Shevat - a ceremony repeated annually throughout the country.

The Jewish National Fund - the Keren Kayemet Le-lsrael -which had gone into action three years previously, immediately took up the idea, and ambitious projects of swamp reclamation and afforestation were soon in hand. With the support of the Teachers' Union, the Jewish National Fund also encouraged schoolchildren, from that day to this, to march out on Tu B'Shevat with seedlings and spades to increase Israel's greenness.

Since the creation of the State in May 1948 miraculous changes have taken piece in Israel's often barren, moisture-lacking terrain. The Jewish National Fund, with governmental aid, drained marshes; planned vast irrigation schemes; cleared and sowed arable land, and afforested hundreds of thousands of dunams. National bodies, such as the National Parks Authority, have saved wide areas, turning them into well-cared-for parks, nature reserves, and places for recreation. Indeed, incredible strides have been made since the seeds were sown on Tu B'Shevat, 1908, when the first organized tree-planting took place, reviving the ancient agricultural tradition of Jews living in the home of their ancestors.

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Arbour day