- Question: [Monday 15th Shevat 5782]
I have heard many times that one is to avoid using the term Tu Beshvat and is rather to use the term “Chamisha Asar Beshvat.” Is there any truth to this statement?
Some are particular to call the holiday by its truly pronounced date of Chamisha Asar Beshvat, and not Tu Beshvat, as Tu does not represent a real number or date. Nonetheless, the widespread custom is not to be particular in this and to simply say Tu Beshvat, and there is no halachic relevance to this matter.
The Rebbe’s custom: As far as I’m aware, in oral conversation [in Hebrew and Yiddish] the Rebbe always use the name “Chamisha Asar Beshvat” however, in written letters in English the Rebbe was seen to write the word Tu Beshvat.
Explanation: There is no Halachic ramification whether one chooses to use the common term Tu Beshvat or the term Chamisha Asar Beshvat, as only in the laws of Sefiras Haomer do we find such a ramification and emphasis to say the actual number date as opposed to abbreviations, and practically since most people identify the holiday as Tu Beshvat, this is what is used in casual conversation as well as in common kindergarten songs. Nonetheless, some are particular to recite Chamisha Asar Beshvat, as did the Rebbe, both due to its intrinsic value of saying the actual date, as well as due to the dictum of the sages that “a student should always recite in the language of his Rebbe.” Nonetheless, the Rebbe was also seen to use the term “Tu Beshvat” in letters written in English. Regarding if the Rebbe ever gave a directive on this matter, I am unaware of any such directive or discussion from the Rebbe to avoid saying the word Tu Beshvat, and as stated above indeed this term was used in a letter of the Rebbe that he wrote to an individual in English. However, Reb Shneur Zalman Lefkivker of Tzefas relates that he once mentioned to the Rebbe that his birthday is on Tu Beav and the Rebbe corrected him to state Chamisha Asar Beav. However, it is unclear as to what can be learned from this especially regarding Tu Beshvat. To note, that those who are particular to say Chamisha Asar Beshvat should seemingly also be particular not to say Lag Baomer, as also lag is not a real date as brought in the Poskim that one does not fulfill his obligation of Sefiras Haomer with this term, and rather they should say Lamed Gimmel Baomer.
Sources: See regarding saying things in the same language as one’s Rebbe: Mishneh Eidiyus 1:3; Brachos 47a; Likkutei Dibburim [Hebrew] 5:1103; Igros Kodesh 13:236; See regarding Lag Baomer and other abbreviations in relevance to Sefiras Haomer: Admur 489:25; Sheilas Yaavetz 139; Siddur Yaavetz Halacha 11; Birkeiy Yosef 489:9 “I lean towards this opinion, however it’s good to recount without a blessing”, brought in Shaareiy Teshuvah ibid