b'JEWISH CALENDAR COMPANIONTU BSHEVATEMMA TAYLORW e first learn about Tu Be Shvat in the Talmudwhichdiscussesthelegal implications of taking tithes from various vegetation. As the trees birthday, tu beshevat serves as a day of separation from one cycle of tithes to the next, marking the end of the fiscal year. It is strange however, to be celebrating the renewal of the trees in the dead of winter. In Israel where these laws are applicable, the trees are hardly looking their finest. Why not wait until spring or even summer, when the trees, plants and flowers are in full bloom, to celebrate? It is like a bride arriving to her wedding without her make up on! It is the trees big day and they arrive to the party half dressed. So what is the significance of celebrating Tu Beshavat this time of year?Rashi explains that Israel has experienced most of the rain that will fall by this point and the ground has become saturated enough that the sap starts to rise inside the various plant life. Our celebration is therefore not of the finished product, the blossoming tree, but of the process in which we get there. This celebration demonstrates an immense amount of inner faith. It states that despite the fact that we cant see the end result we have Emunah, we know with absolute clarity that what we are celebrating will be revealed. We often celebrate Tu Bshevat the week when we read Parshat Beshalach.InthisTorahreading,wereadabouttheheavenly man, the manna that rain downed from heaven, like a divine dew, sustaining the Jewish people in the desert. In the description of the man, an interesting word is used. The Torah says - leman anaseinu-the man will come down in order to test the Jewish people. To me this doesnt seem much like a test! Can you imagine opening the front door to find your favourite food waiting for you-this was the biblical version of Uber eats, for free! So what was the test? Maimonides explains that the one rule of the man was that they couldnt keep any left over from one day to another. The test was that they had to have faith that the next day when they opened their tents, the food would be there. They had to know with complete sincerity that the process would work, otherwise the man would not 35'