In a joint venture of the Union of Synagogues and JNF, there has been a renewal of the “Planting” prayer (Tefillat HaNote’a) for this Tu B’Shvat, to be used at planting ceremonies held throughout the country.
Tefillat HaNote’a was authored by former Rabbi Ben-Zion Meir Hai Uzziel zt”l, during his tenure as Chief Rabbi of Israel. The prayer was accepted and was utilized when planting trees in JNF forests in general, and on Tu B’Shvat in particular. Two years ago, Rav Shear Yeshuv Cohen ‘updated’ the prayer to make it more appropriate for our times.
JNF Chairman Efi Shtenzler praised the initiative and said: “I really connect with the prayer composed by Rabbis Uziel zt”l and Cohen shlit”a. The prayer expresses the Zionist and ecological values of planting trees on our nation’s land”.
Last year a halachic question arose: can you say the Tefillat HaNote’a also when planting virtual trees. The question was passed over by Eliezer Sheffer, Chairman of the Union of Synagogues in Israel and the Diaspora, to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, following the enterprise of the ‘world’s first social forest’ that JNF established online. The Rabbinate ruled that “even those who plant a tree through the Internet can say the Tefillat HaNote’a.”
The ‘Social Forest’ is a virtual forest where surfers from around the world have sowed ‘virtual trees’. Then, JNF plants the trees in JNF forests throughout the country. Since the project went live, tens of thousands of users have planted, ‘virtual trees’.
“In principle, it is certainly better for every person to engage in planting the land himself, but one who is unable to do so, would do well to at least participate in it through the Internet, and thereby take part in building the land. Therefore, even those who plant a tree using the Internet may and should say Tefillat HaNote’a, thus demonstrating his faith in the Rock and Redeemer of Israel, and the settlement of Eretz Yisrael,” reads the ruling of the Chief Rabbinate.