Tomorrow is the 15th day of the Jewish month of Shvat, known as the holiday of 'Tu Bishvat'.

Tu Bishvat is considered to many as the Jewish arbor day, the birthday of the trees. Wait a minute, take a look outside, does it look like the trees are celebrating anything exactly? What makes this day their birthday?

In a nutshell, Tu Bishvat, the 15th of Shevat on the Jewish calendar - celebrated this year on Saturday, February 11, 2017 - is the day that marks the beginning of a 'new year' for trees. This is the season in which the earliest-blooming trees in the Land of Israel emerge from their winter sleep and begin a new fruit-bearing cycle. It will take some time before we see the fruits of their labors, but there is a lot of work going on - it's just happening underground, away from our prying eyes. 

The story of Tub Bishvat can serve as a beautiful lesson for us as well, because we are just the same.

The Torah writes that people are like trees. This is true in many ways. We start off small and vulnerable like trees. We are easily influenced when we're very young, just like a tree is easily bent when it's a sapling. We have different moods, like the tree's seasonal changes. We have children like trees bear fruit. 

Finally, we're like trees in that changes that we make in our lives and the lives of others can be hardly noticeable at first.

We can try to teach our children how to behave nicely, smile even though it's been a hard day, put effort into helping a friend, or try to work harder at the office - and feel like no one notices, nothing changes. It can be discouraging.

Yet how often are we influenced by something we see someone do or say, yet that person will never know about it? How often do we think back to something that might've happened years ago, and find it to be meaningful or encouraging only now?

Tu Bishvat teaches us that a 'birthday', a time of positive growth and success, is not something whose results we necessarily see right away. Sometimes it takes a while for us to to see the fruit of our actions. But the affect always happens, the blossoming always comes. As long as we're persistent and don't give up, our efforts always bear fruit. And even if know one has recognized those results yet, we know that we're doing what we can, and that it course for celebration and peace of mind, just like the trees whose birthday is at a time when their fruits are still months away.

Rabbi Avrohom