“For man is like the tree of the field”
According to the school of Shammai, man is not to have any dialogue with his surroundings, and nature is understood, at best, as what enables man to observe the mitzvah, the precept of setting aside offerings and tithes. The school of Hillel, by contrast, incorporates another dimension in the New Year for Trees, resulting in a dialogue with nature. Man, according to this school of thought is the mediator between G_d and his environment...
This article is an in-depth analysis of the debate between the houses of Hillel and Shamai regarding Tu B’Shvat, giving us an understanding of the tensions between different conceptions of Man, the World and Nature that crop up in the Jewish tradition, as well as of that ultimately prevailed and is transmitted.
by Edith Blaustein