Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyThis exhaustive--and exhausting--collection of essays, biblical passages, poems, songs and recipes scrutinizes Tu B'Shvat, a minor Jewish festival that occurs on the 15th day (tu Equals number 15 in Hebrew) of Shvat, the fifth month of the Jewish year (it usually falls between mid-January and mid-February). Known as the New Year of the Tree, Jewish Arbor Day or Tree-Planting Day, Tu B'Shvat began as a tax day for calculating which fruit would be included in the tithe brought to the Temple. Following the destruction of the Second Temple, Jews in the Diaspora demonstrated their attachment to the Holy Land by eating fruits, preferably from Israel, on Tu B'Shvat. After Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, some Kabbalists developed a special ritual for the holiday that included drinking four cups of wine and eating fruits and nuts. More recently, Tu B'Shvat has become a day for planting trees in Israel and for celebrating ecological concerns. The minor festival's meaning and observance are thoroughly explored in this laborious, fulsome and repetitive presentation, constituting the definitive work on Tu B'Shvat. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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