a Tu B'Shevat Seder
Prepare a festive table with: candles, flowers, red and white wine and a great platter of fruit. Pick from each of the following lists for your seder*:
inedible covering: pomegranate, coconut, pinenut, almonds, pistachio, avocado, banana, pineapple, walnuts, chestnuts, sabra
edible except for a seed or pit: olives, dates, carob, apricot, papaya, mango, peach, cherries, plums, apricots
totally edible: fig, grape, etrog, strawberry, blueberries, raspberries, lemon, quince, persimmon, orange, apple, candied orange, kumquat
sugared ginger root
and Crown Royal
*If you pick 3 kinds from each list plus the ginger it equals 10. The number of the sephirot which make up the mystical Tree of Life. At least be sure to have the special fruits of the land of Israel, "... a Land of wheat, barley, grape, fig and pomegranate; a Land of the oil of olives and the honey of dates..." Devarim 8:8-9.
The goal of the seder is to understand that while everything perceived by the senses may be physical, the lowest level of manifestation, all phenomenon are evidence of events (prayers) that have come down through all the levels of existence, all four Kabbalistic worlds. (1) May we merit to experience the weighting of the soul as it is drawn down through the worlds into the body and the elevation of the body as it rises through the worlds to meet the Divine.
We start the Seder by pouring the first cup of wine. All white.
We begin in ASSIYAH, the World of Action, the physical and material world, the human body. This level is that of earth, the place of darkest density for the soul. This is sometimes referred to as Malchut, after the name of the sephirah at the base of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. Fruit, is the final product of the tree, it contains the seeds of the next generation.(1)
We make the blessing (saying blessings releases the "sparks" of the Divine that are within the food and wine) over the glass of White Wine:
Baruch Atah Adonai Elohaynu Melech HaOlam, borai pri HaGafen. (Amen)
Drink from this glass. Next make a blessing over a fruit with a protective shell. Preferably this is the pomegranate/rimon, as one of the seven fruits of the land of Israel it takes a "higher" blessing than the blessing for other fruits.The pomegranate is a symbol of Knesset (the community of ) Israel and is associated with the 613 mitzvot. If this is a "new" fruit that you haven't had this season make a Shecheheyanu blessing after the blessing for fruit. If not make the Shecheheyanu blessing when you eat a fruit that is new to you this season:
Baruch Atah Adonai Elohaynu Melech HaOlam, borai pri HaAytz. (Amen)
Baruch Atah Adonai Elohaynu Melech HaOlam, shehecheyanu vekiyemanu vehigiyanu lazman hazeh. (Amen)
The 1st fruit is eaten. Possible choices besides the pomegranate, include: coconut, pinenut, almonds, pistachio, avocado, banana, pineapple, walnuts, chestnuts, sabra
(A possible reading is from The Song of Songs, perek bet)
Next pour the 2nd cup of wine, with more white wine than red (a golden mean proportion, aproximately 2/3 to 1/3) and read on:
The second level is called YETZIRAH, the World of Formation. This is the realm of the Self, of conciousness. This is the branch of the Tree. We can refer to it by the name of the sephirah Tiferet which falls in the center of this World. The fruits we eat here have no outer covering that has to be removed they are edible accept for an inner pit or stone. This symbolizes the Heart protected and hidden.
We drink the 2nd glass of wine and eat from the 2nd type of fruit. Possible choices of fruit include : olives, dates, carob, apricot, papaya, mango, peach, cherries, plums, apricots
(A possible reading is from the Sefer Yetzirah)
Our 3rd glass of wine, is prepared this time with more red wine than white.
BERIAH is the World of Creation. This is the world of the Mind, the realm of pure knowledge. It represents cosmic and collective consiousness. It is represented as the trunk of the tree. The sephirah in the center of this world is Daat, which means knowledge, in the deepest sense. We eat fruits that are totally edible. Because they have no discardable shell or pit this makes them closest to the purely spiritual.
We drink the 3rd glass of wine and enjoy the 3rd type of fruit. Possible choices of fruit include: an etrog, fig, grape, strawberry, blueberries, raspberries, lemon, quince, persimmon, orange, apple, candied orange, kumquat
(A possible reading is: Psalm 104 or 15 Psalms of Ascent 120-134)
We pour now the 4th cup of wine, which is entirely red. To this we add a drop of water. (The red wine is symbolic of din or severity, this drop of water tempers the din with hessed or mercy).
We have arrived at the level of AZILUT, the World of Emanation which is the Keter or Crown of the tree. This is the name of the sephirah at the top of the Tree of Life. This is the place of the light of the infinite or the Ain Sof, Divine conciousness. We are in the "tap" root of the tree.
We drink the final glass of wine.
There is no fruit served here because we have arrived at a world in which the spiritual is predominate. (the possible exception might be a bit of sugared ginger root)
(Possible Readings are: from the Zohar or the 13 Biblical passages in the Talmud)
Mezonot (crackers or cake, I recommend Rut Maoz's fruitcake) are served in order to make the blessing over wheat: Baruch Atah Adonai, Elohaynu Melech HaOlam, boray minay mezonot. (Amen)
And a shot of Crown Royal makes a fitting conclusion as it encompasses all of the tree, at least in name, Keter/Crown-Royal/Malchut.
We close the Seder each saying the Three Faceted Blessing (for one of the 7 fruits of Israel) and Borei Nefashot (for everything else).
Baruch Atah Adonai Elohaynu Melech HaOlam, al hamichiyah ve al hakalkalah, ve al hagafen ve al pri hagafen, al haaytz ve al pritz haaytz, ve al tnuvat hasadeh, ve al eretz chemdah tova urachavah shayratzita vehinchalta la Avotenu leechol mipriyah velishboah metuvah. Rachem na Adonai Elohaynu, al Israel amecha, ve al Yerushalayim irecha, ve al Zion mishkan kevodecha, ve al mizbachacha ve al hechalecha. Uvaneh Yerushalayim ir HaKodesh bimhayrah bayamenu. Ve haalenu letocha vesamchenu bevinyana, venoachal mipriyah venishboah mitovah venevrachecha aleah bekedushah uvetaharah ki Atah Adonai tov umaytiv, lachol, venodeh lecha al haaretz ve al hamichiyah, ve al pri hagefen (hagafnah). ve al haperot (perotechah).Baruch Atah Adonai, al haaretz, ve al hamichiyah, ve al pri hagfen (hagafna), ve al haperot (perotechah).
Baruch Atah Adonai Elohaynu Melech HaOlam, boray nefashot rahbot vechisronan, al kol mah shebaratah lehahayot bechem nefesh kol chai, baruch chai haolamim.
At the beginning of a journey we must remind ourselves of the goal, our efforts will ultimately bear fruit.
Eliezar Shore for Sarah Yehudit Schneider's "A Still Small Voice" (1)
"Tu B'Shevat, A Mystical Seder for the New Year of Trees" from the Diaspora Yeshiva
"The Book of Our Heritage" by Eliyahu Kitov (for further reference on the dinim, or laws, for the blessings Eliyahu Kitov has an in depth description on page 349)
"Seasons of Joy" by Arthur Waskow
Chabad-Lubavitch's Week in Review