While we may not feast on the greasy and fatty foods we look forward to scarfing down during other holidays, on Tu’ B’shevat we celebrate the one Jewish holiday where healthy eating habits are encouraged to honor the day, the environment and most importantly our well-being. I’m sure the health-conscious millennials of LA will agree that this holiday is our chance to be mindful of our health in every sense, especially when it comes to the food we put in our bodies!
Literally translated as the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat, Tu’ B’shevat is known to be the new year of the trees, or as I like to call it, “Jewish Earth Day.” Many customs are observed, such as planting trees, especially on Israeli Kibbutzim, as it is considered to be an agricultural holiday marking the revival of nature and environmentalism.
Doctor of Oriental Medicine Daniel Wasserman of Hollywood, Florida, gives a Chabad.org video lecture on health and nutrition in connection with Tu B’Shevat. In his lecture regarding the Seven Species eaten during Tu’ B’shevat, Wasserman goes through the list of the biblical fruit, making a case for why each of these species could have been the ‘forbidden fruit’ on the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden and correlating the special fruits of the land – that were eaten in great amounts by our ancestors – with their overall better health.
The Seven Species, or “Shiv’at HaMinim” in Hebrew, are seven agricultural products which include two grains: wheat and barley and five fruits: grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates. These seven species have historically played an important role in biblical times and are referenced many times throughout the Torah. Traditionally they are eaten not only during Sukkot and Shavuot but also now, during Tu’ B’shevat, when it is customary to have a feast with the special fruits and grains of the Holy Land.
Many of us are already aware (and yet, fail to make the better choice – how can you pass up the high-calorie, deliciously carb-y snack?) of the obvious benefits that come with choosing God-made foods, fresh from the ground and trees, over factory-processed, man-made junk where we can’t pronounce more than two of the ingredients on the wrapper.
A few of the Seven Species with exquisite health benefits, according to Wasserman: Grapes and light to moderate wine consumption are associated with lower risks of developing age-dependent cognitive decline and dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. So don’t feel guilty about cheering to the weekend because at just the right amount – it’s what your body needs! And olives and pomegranates have been associated with lower cancer and heart disease risks, among other things, Wasserman says.
So this new year, do not miss your chance to tackle the resolution you made a month ago to eat and feel healthier with the consumption of the blessed fruit of our homeland, and who knows, if you keep at this healthy regime of our ancestors, you might outlive us all!
Wasserman, Daniel. “Tu B’Shevat and Healing: Nutrition from Shamayim.” Chabad.org. February, 2012. Accessed Jan. 29, 2018.