A call by a group of senior Religious Zionist rabbis was published Sunday in preparation for the Tu B'shvat holiday, in which they urge the public to buy Israeli produce the Tu B'shvat meal.
The rabbis emphasize that eating fruits from the Land of Israel strengthens settlement of the land and bolsters Jewish agriculture.
The 15th day of the month of Hebrew month Shvat marks the beginning of the "new year" for trees for the purpose of calculating the tree's age for tithing. The Torah states that fruit from trees which were grown in the Land of Israel may not be eaten during the first three years from the tree's planting; the fourth year's fruit is for G-d, and after that, the fruit may be eaten.
Each tree is considered to have aged one year as of Tu B'Shvat, no matter when in the year it was planted.
It is customary to plant trees and partake of the fruits of the land of Israel to mark the occasion.
This year (5778 / 2018) Tu B'Shvat falls on January 31, 2018.
In the appeal, the rabbis quote the words of the 17th century decisor of Jewish law, Rabbi Yoel Sirkis -best known for his work, Bayit Hadash, or Bach for short - emphasizing the sanctity of the Land of Israel's produce, and calling for the serving of fruit from the Land of Israel.
"The sanctity of the Land that is affected by the sanctity of the corresponding spiritual Supernal Land also influences its fruits that absorb holiness of the Divine Presence that is subsumed within the Land ... By eating its fruits, we are nourished by the sanctity of the Shekhina and its purity, and we are satiated from its goodness. We call on our brethren, the children of Israel, to bring to their table for the Tu B'shvat ceremony specifically the fruits of the Land of Israel."
Rabbi Dov Lior, Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, Rabbi Yigal Kaminetzky, Rabbi David Hai HaCohen, Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, and other rabbis signed the appeal. The call comes in preparation for a major Tu B'shvat seder for religious youth, expected to be held for the first time this week in Jerusalem under the theme The Good of the Land and will touch upon Tu B'shvat issues connected to the Land of Israel and its fruits.
In addition, the rabbis emphasized that "eating the Land of Israel's fruits, after setting aside tithes according to halakha, with proper intent and recitation of blessing, arouses love of the Land of Israel, strengthens settlement of the land and Jewish agriculture. Tu Bishvat seder is a special opportunity to awaken the love of the Land of Israel by eating the fruits of the Land of Israel. May the humble eat and be satisfied," the rabbis conclude.
Rabbi Netanel Yosifun, rabbi of Netanya, who initiated both the rabbis' call and the Jerusalem event, said that Tu B'shvat is an opportunity to celebrate the love of the Land of Israel and its fruits and to connect with the Land of Israel from a place of love and joy. He called on the youth to attend the event this week: "It will be an event full of joy, thanksgiving, and song, and the hope is that every year the event will grow and become a central focus to connect the greater public through this special holiday to the Land of Israel and its fruits out of joy."
The organizers of the event say they expect hundreds of participants from all over the country. Many educational institutions also joined the initiative, including the Bnei Zvi Yeshiva from Beit El, the Yeshiva for Young People in Jerusalem, the Ra'aya Ulpana and other institutions.
At the event, which will take place on Wednesday, Tu B'Shvat, Jerusalem, in the Shirat Yerushalayim hall in Givat Shaul, each participant will receive a set of Tu B'Shvat fruits - from the Land of Israel only.
Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel visited the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem at the end of last week. In a video released from the site, the Minister also called on the public to buy dried fruit made in Israel only: "Don't buy dried fruits from Erdogan; it's not healthy, it's not fresh. Buy it here in the market."