Maccabi World Union TuBishvat 2019 Message: TuBishvat and the multiplicity of meanings of the name Maccabi




Dear friends,

Tu Bishvat – the 15th of the Hebrew month of Shvat - celebrates "the New Year of Trees ", meaning the renewal of the natural cycle in the Land of Israel, represented by the flowering of the shkediah - the almond tree during the peak of the Israeli winter. This is a day of great joy in Medinat Israel, when children and young Israelis turn en masse to plant trees throughout the length and breadth of the Land of Israel - the most forested country in the world, with a rate of forestation much above the local wood consumption.


Maccabi, the name that identifies us internationally and that is reason for pride for the Jewish people everywhere, also refers, in one of its meanings, to Tu Bishvat, the Land of Israel and our relationship with it as Maccabees.


When we speak of Maccabi, we refer to three main related axis; axis which establish the relationship of each Maccabi member with God, the Jewish People and the State and the Land of Israel. As Maccabees, we should be part  of, and responsible for maintaining these links, which determine the multiplicity of our Jewish and Zionist being:


1.      Maccabi is an acronym for the famous verse “Mi Camocha Ba’elim Hashem” (“Who is equal to Thee among all forces, Oh Lord”, Exodus 15:11, which we will read in this week's Parashah, Parashat Shirah). By recognizing the Divine Infinity and His protection over us, we establish a bond of closeness and ineffable admiration towards our Creator. This points out to the vertical axis, between man & God; and, on a national level, the Jew & the God of Israel. This axis relates the Maccabee with The Reason of everything and everyone.


2.      Similarly, Maccabi stands for Matitiahu Cohen Ben Yochanan, the leader of the revolution against the Seleucids, who inspires us with his example of struggle against assimilation. Matitiahu's example urges every Maccabee today to address the welfare of his/her people by creating a link based on the inter-responsibility and profound love for the Bnei Israel. This points out to the horizontal axis: between man & man; Jew & the Jewish people. This axis relates the Maccabee with the fate of his/her people and urged him/her to be always an active part of them.


3.     The third meaning is relevant to the celebration of Tu Bishvat. Maccabi[1] is also makkevet, hammer: Yehudah the Maccabee was known for his way to smite his enemies with a mighty hammer. This name points out to two different meanings: the Maccabi spirit of resistance and self-confidence that was indispensable in the creation of the State of Israel, and the specific tools we use to work in the Land, transforming it into a fruitful land even in its deserts and swamps. From that meaning (that of the tool with which we transform the Land of Israel in "a land flowing with milk and honey"[2]), the name Maccabi - Makkevet notes our responsibility towards the building, flourishing and development of the Land of Israel – goals which are possible when we use the tools of the era we live in. With the hammer of the past and the tractors and the computerized irrigation of the present, we recover our connection to the Land with our ancestors - our inheritance. This definition, then, determines the last of the three aspects of our being Jewish Maccabees: the man - earth, Jew - Land of Israel. This is the axis which places us with our feet and hearts in the Land which is celebrated on Tu Bishvat by planting more trees and the multiplication of life that they produce.


May we, in This Tu Bishvat, root our souls with our renewed commitment to the Land of Israel and the State it comprises, for a present filled with a profusion of all manner of fruits and the promise of future growth and development.


T”U BiShvat Sameach!

Chazak ve'ematz!


Deputy Director-General & Director of Education

Maccabi World Union



[1] The name Tu BiShvat is a Hebrew Date: the 15th Day of the month of Shvat. In Hebrew alphabet numerology, the letter Yud stands for 10, so for example 11 is Yud-Aleph; 15, however, is not Yud-Heh because that would form one of the names of HaShem. Thus 15 is formed from Tet (9) & Vav (6).

[2] Maccabi can be written with the Hebrew letter Caf as with the Hebrew letter Kuf. Makkabi with Kuf, is synonymous of makkevet, which means "hammer" in Hebrew.

[3] Shemot (Exodus) III, 8 & XXXIII, 3; D'varim (Deuteronomy) XI, 9.

Maccabi World Union TuBishvat 2019 Message: TuBishvat and the multiplicity of meanings of the name Maccabi
As TuBishvat approaches, we hear a special message from Rabbi Carlos Tapiero from Maccabi World Union.