By Rabbi Chaim Morgenstern
Proclaiming Hashem's Sovereignty
Tu B’Shvat is has the ability to strengthen one's emunah in Hashem by acknowledging Hashem’s greatness, kindness and sovereignty over the world. We first accomplish this by focusing on the meaning of the bracha (blessing) that we recite before eating the fruits, and by observing the chesed (kindness) and miracles in each of the variety of fruits that we eat.
Every bracha that a person recites before eating is a proclamation of Hashem's sovereignty over the world because each bracha is required to have Shem and Malchus, meaning the Divine names of adnus and Elokainu. These names connote mastery and being the Almighty one, and melech ha'olam means that he's the king of the world. And, in the final words of each bracha, when we say either "Hamotzi…" (He brings forth from the earth), "borei …" (He creates…) or "She'hakol" (His word creates everything), we acknowledge that Hashem created the food ex nihilo – out of nothing – because each seed decomposes before sprouting. (This is one of the examples used to prove te'chiyas ha'maysim – resurrection of the dead.)
Perhaps this explains why some have the custom of celebrating Tu Be’shvat by eating fruits in a group (b’rov am) and reciting praises to Hashem – because by doing so, the objectives of eating fruits on Tu B’Shvat are achieved more easily and are longer lasting.
Appreciating Hashem’s Wisdom and Kindliness
Rav Avigdor Miller said that Shaar Habechina, which is the second chapter of Chovos Halevavos, is devoted to observing and thinking about the phenomena of the universe in order to appreciate Hashem’s wisdom and kindliness. And studying this is the easiest way to develop an understanding and awareness of the Creator.
One of these phenomena is food, and by taking out a minute to observe the many wonders that exist in the food we eat, it is impossible not to notice the Hand of Hashem in its creation.
Let's use an apple as an example. By examining it, one can see the infinite wisdom in this "simple" fruit. The skin of the apple contains oil that is waterproof and is not affected by heavy rains during the months of growth. It also has an aroma which makes it more desirable to eat, and the color of the skin indicates its state of ripeness. The green skin will turn red when it is fit to eat and only then will the apple fall off the tree.
The stem serves as a means of support from the tree and is the main water supply to the apple while it is growing. The stem holds the fruit tightly as long as the fruit is unripe; and as soon as a fruit no longer needs the tree, the stem loses its grip, as if it possessed a built in automatic time-release mechanism that allows the fruit to come off easily.
Eating can be a catalyst for gaining awareness of Hashem's kindness and presence in the world
The variety of fruits also demonstrates Hashem's kindness toward mankind. Hashem could have created only one type of tree which would produce a tasteless fruit the size of a large ball with all the vitamins, minerals and proteins needed for one’s daily requirement. A person would derive no pleasure from eating this tasteless fruit and he would be eating solely to sustain himself, similar to filling an automobile with gasoline. However, in Hashem’s kindness, he created different types of fruits, vegetables and other foods for us to enjoy.
Thus, eating can be a catalyst that can assist a person in gaining more awareness of Hashem's kindness and presence in the world. Perhaps for this reason Chazal say that it’s a mitzva to eat from each new seasonal fruit (Yerushalmi end of Kiddushin, cited in the Mishna Brura 225:19).