Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

10 Shevat 5759 - Jan. 27, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly

















Home and Family
Creativity Corner
A Cake from the Fruit of the Trees
by Devora Piha

Tu Bishvat, the fifteenth of Shvat, is the Rosh Hashona of the trees. The custom is to eat the fruits of Eretz Yisroel, the seven species: wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates, plus any other fruits that grow in Eretz Yisroel. The seven species are the most important because Eretz Yisroel is blessed and is richer with these fruits than other countries. Eating the variety of fruits increases our appreciation of the vast variety in Creation, and partaking of their wonderful, different flavors enables us to bless Hashem while the mitzva is ripe and right before our eyes.

Tu Bishvat is when the sap begins flowing in the trees and when some fruits begin to blossom after having appeared dead during the preceding months. The tree without its leaves and fruit is like a man who is suffering or falling - but whom Hashem rescues in the nick of time, even after hope seems gone. The rejuvenation of the trees is also a sign of the future techiyas hameisim when the dead will spring back to life. Our emuna is strengthened when we see the trees show new signs of life and fruitfulness.

The tree provides us with more than fruit, as we learn from the following parable from the gemora in Taanis, taught to school children in song, to heighten the lesson of the attributes of the tree:

A man traveling in the desert, weary, hungry and thirsty, came upon a tree. The tree provided him with sweet fruit, shade from the hot sun and refreshing water from the spring that flowed nearby and watered it. Revived and grateful, the man spoke to the tree and said, "Ilan, ilan! Tree, tree! How shall I bless you?" He enumerated all the wonderful things he had to thank it for -- which it already had. Shade, fruit, a supply of water. What, then? And he said: "Let all the saplings planted from you be just like you!"

Biblical-Tasting Unbaked Fruitcake

The following unbaked fruitcake recipe uses three of the seven species: dates, figs and raisins (grapes) plus almonds and coconut. Nothing more. It is reminiscent of what our culinary biblical heritage might have included. It is simple, elegant and healthy. There is no white sugar, no fat, no oil and no refined flour. It will not qualify for a mezonos blessing but is very satisfying and a perfect treat for Tu Bishvat.

Prepare this `cake' a day or two before Tu Bishvat. Opening the fruit, checking it carefully (some may wish to omit the figs) and cracking the nutshells is in itself an indoor day activity that can keep children happy and busy. Supply knives that are dull. Adult supervision is required. Have two or more nutcrackers on hand (or put almonds in a plastic bag and crush with shnitzel hammer or regular hammer and then separate meats). Adult should check for infestation.


Note: 1 kilo = 2.2 lb.

1 kilo dates/ 1 kilo figs, stems removed/ 1 kilo almonds, shelled, or walnuts/ 1 kilo coconut shreds/ 1 kilo seedless raisins


Grind in food processor or by hand in small quantities. Line one large loaf pan or bowl with wax paper. Place 4-10 sliced almonds in a decorative floral pattern on the wax paper on bottom of pan. Press mixture firmly into pan. Smooth top surface. Cover. Chill 4 hours or more. Turn out upside down onto serving platter. Slice thin to serve. Use this recipe as the idea basis for other unbaked fruitcakes.


Peel, cut and check a variety of Tu Bishvat fruits. Place each variety in a separate bowl. Have children thread the fruits onto a wooden skewer or toothpick. Encourage them to repeat the same pattern on each skewer to reinforce concepts of order and sequence. Or, if order appears arbitrary, note the differences between the arrangements according to type, number and placement of fruit. Now is a good time to teach small children the blessing on fruits and to learn about trees and their fruit.

The kebobs can be stuck into oranges and grapefruits with a small slice cut off on bottom so that they'll sit well. These should first be washed well to eliminate mites.

Healthy appetite!


All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.