Birchas Ilanos

This Halacha is an excerpt from our Sefer


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Birchas Ilanos:[1]

One who walks outside[2] in the month of Nissan and sees trees which are sprouting forth blossom needs to say the blessing of “Shelo Chiser Biolamo Klum[3], Uvara Bo Brios Tovos Veilanos Tovos Leihanos Bahem Bnei Adam.” This blessing is only said the first time that one sees the blossom that year.[4]

Summary: [Includes Q&A]

In the month of Nissan, upon seeing Kosher fruit trees which are sprouting forth blossom of fruits, one says the blessing of “Baruch Ata Hashem, Elokeinu Melech Haolam, Shelo Chiser Biolamo Klum Uvara Bo Brios Tovos Veilanos Tovos Leihanos Bahem Bnei Adam.” This blessing is only said the first time that one sees the blossom that year. Thus, once one sees a blossoming fruit tree in the month of Nissan, he is to immediately say the blessing. The blessing is not to be delayed for a second sighting. The blessing should only be said in the month of Nissan. The blessing may be said at night, and may be said on Shabbos, although some avoid saying it on Shabbos. The blessing may only be said over a fruit bearing tree, and only over the blossoming of its fruit. The blessing may not be said over an Arla tree, or tree that transgressed Kilayim. The blessing is preferably to be said over the blossoming of two trees, although this is not required. Women likewise recite this blessing. Some are accustomed to say the blessing over blossoming fruit trees that are outside the city.

Q&A on when to say the blessing

Is this blessing only said in the month of Nissan or may it also be said in Adar or Iyar?[5]

Some Poskim[6] rule the blessing may be said also in the month of Adar or Iyar. Other Poskim[7], however, rule that one is to say this blessing specifically in the month of Nissan, and it cannot be said before or after.[8] Practically, some[9] conclude that if one will be unable to say the blessing in Nissan, he may say it beforehand [in Adar], or after [in Iyar], upon seeing the blossom. However, in the Rebbe’s opinion of the Alter Rebbe, the blessing may not be said in any month other than Nissan.[10]

 

When is the blessing to be said in a Leap Year?[11]

According to the lenient opinion above, in a leap year the blessing may be said in the month of Adar, if there will not be blossoms available in Nissan. However, according to the opinion of the Mekubalim, it may only be said in Nissan even in a leap year. However, there are opinions[12] who say that in a leap year, even according to the Mekubalim, it may be said in Adar.

 

When is the blessing to be said in Australia?[13]

In Australia, the blessing over the blossoms is said in Elul:Tishreiy, which is the time of their blossoming. Practically, however, many Chabad Chassidim in Australia are not accustomed to recite this blessing at all.[14]

 

May the blessing be said on Shabbos?[15]

Yes.[16] Furthermore, there are those who are scrupulous to say the blessing specifically on Shabbos, in order to complete the 100 required blessings.[17] However, others[18] rule it is forbidden to say the blessing on Shabbos.[19]

 

May one say the blessing at night?[20]

Yes. So long as there is light, and the blossom of the fruit is visible, then the blessing may be recited.

                                       Q&A on saying blessing at first opportunity

If one saw the blossom of a fruit and did not say the blessing, may he do so at a later date, when seeing another tree blossoming, or upon seeing that same tree?[21]

Some Poskim[22] rule one may only say the blessing the first time he sees the blossom of a fruit tree. If one saw the tree, and did not say the blessing, the opportunity is lost and he may no longer say it that year.[23] However, other Poskim[24] rule the blessing may still be said upon seeing the blossom of a fruit, even if he had previously seen a blossom and did not say the blessing at that opportunity.[25] It, however, may not be said on a tree that has already born fruit [i.e. ripened] if one has seen a blossoming tree in the past.[26] [Practically, one is to be stringent not to gaze at blossoming trees, unless he plans to say the blessing. In the event that he gazed at the tree and did not say the blessing, many are accustomed to be lenient to still say the blessing, although it is suggested that one contact a Rav for a practical directive.[27] If one did not gaze and stare at the tree, but simply saw it as he was walking and the like, the blessing may be said the second time.]

·         According to the above, if one did not say the blessing immediately upon seeing the blossom may the blessing still be said if he is still looking at the tree?

Yes.[28]

 

Q&A on the type of tree to say the blessing

How many trees must one see blossoming to say the blessing?[29]

The blessing may be recited over the blossoming of even a single tree. However, initially, it is best to say the blessing over the blossoming of two trees.[30]

May the blessing be said over a tree that cannot bear fruit?[31]

The blessing may only be said on fruit bearing trees.[32]

On what type of blossom may the blessing be recited over?[33]  

The blessing may only be said upon seeing the blossoming of a future fruit and not the blossoming of a leaf or flower of the fruit tree.

 

If one sees fruit on the tree and does not see any blossom, may the blessing be said?

Some Poskim[34] rule that once the fruits have grown[35], the blessing may no longer be said, [even if he has not yet seen a blossoming tree[36]]. Other Poskim[37], however, rule the blessing may be said even after the fruits have grown. Practically, some Poskim[38] conclude that if one has not seen a blossoming tree prior to this point, then a blessing may be said on a tree that already grew fruit. If, however, one saw a blossoming tree once in the past, and did not say a blessing, then the blessing may not be said on the tree that has fruit. Furthermore, even if one had not seen a blossoming tree in the past, if the fruit has ripened to the point that one may say Shehechiyanu upon eating it, one may no longer say a blessing over it.[39] Practically, the worldly custom is to only recite the blessing so long as the blossoming flower still covers the fruit, while afterwards, it is said without Hashem’s name.[40]

 

If most of the tree has its fruits grown and some are still blossoming, may the blessing be said?

Yes.

 

May the blessing be said over a mixed species tree, like nectarines?[41]

One may not say the blessing upon seeing the blossoms of such a tree as the existence of such a tree is against the will of G-d.[42] However, there are Poskim[43] who are lenient. Practically one is to be stringent.[44]

 

May the blessing be said over an Arla tree?[45]

Some Poskim[46] rule one may not say the blessing upon seeing the blossoms of an Arla tree. Other Poskim[47] rule it is allowed. Practically, one is to be stringent.[48]

Safek Arla:[49] According to all, in the Diaspora one may say the blessing upon seeing the blossoms of a tree which one is uncertain if it is Arla. However, in Eretz Yisrael, it is not to be said.

 

Is one to leave the city to say the blessing?

The blessing may be said on the blossom of all fruit bearing trees, even if they are within the city, and so is the custom.[50] However, according to the Mekubalim, one is to specifically go to an orchard outside the city to say the blessing.[51]

 

Are women to say the blessing of Birchas Ilanos?[52]

Yes.

 

 

Sparks of Kabala:[53]

The Zohar[54] states that the souls of the upper worlds are found in the month of Nissan in the gardens. There are also various sparks of Kedusha, and reincarnated souls, found in trees. By reciting the blessing over the trees, one elevates these sparks and souls to holiness.

 

____________________________________________________________________

[1] Seder Birchas Hanehnin 13:14; Luach 12:23; Michaber 226:1; Brachos 43b

[2] Some infer from this wording of the Talmud and Poskim that one is to leave the city in order to say the blessing, as rule the Mekubalim. [Lev Chaim 2:44]

Other Nusschaos: Some Rishonim omit this wording “one who goes outside” and rather simply write “one who sees” [Rabbeinu Yerucham Nesiv 13; Abudarham; Chayeh Adam 63:2]

[3] So is the Nussach of Michaber 226:1; Admur in Seder ibid; However, some are accustomed to say “Davar”. See Piskeiy Teshuvos 226 footnote 13; Minchas Yitzchak 10:16

[4] Meaning, if one saw the blossom and did not say the blessing, he may no longer say it the next time he sees the blossom. [Ketzos Hashulchan 66:18] The blessing is said only on the first fruit tree that one sees blossoming, and not on any additional trees, even if they are a different species. [Mishneh Berurah 226:3; Unlike the law by Shehechiyanu, however similar to the law of seeing beautiful creations.]

[5] The question here is whether one is able to deduce from the wording in Shulchan Aruch of “Nissan” that the blessing may only be said in the month of Nissan. For a thorough discussion on this matter see Ketzos Hashulchan 66:18; Sdei Chemed Mareches Brachos 2:1; Piskeiy Teshuvos 126:1

[6] Ritva Rosh Hashanah 11b; Chayeh Adam 63:2; Makor Chaim of Chavos Yair; Shulchan Hatahor 226:1; Kitzur SHU”A 60:1; Machatzis Hashekel 226; Mishneh Berurah 226:1; Birchas Habayis 29:14; Heishiv Moshe 8; Olas Shmuel [brought in Pesach Hadvir 2:226 that even according to Kabala this applies]; Sdei Chemed ibid in name of many Achronim; So is implied from the Peri Megadim 226 M”Z 1 that deals with the question of why we do not say the blessing every thirty days. [Ketzos Hashulchan ibid]; Minchas Yitzchak 10:16; The Sdei Chemed ibid rules that it may be said throughout the entire Tekufa of Nissan. The Chasam Sofer writes it may be said until Nissan of Tekufas Hachama. [Nitei Gavriel Pesach Vol. 1]

The reason Nissan was mentioned according to this opinion: The above Poskim explain that Nissan was mentioned in the Shulchan Aruch being it is the common time for blossoming. Hence in truth, the blessing may be said also in other months, by the first sighting of a blossom.

Calculating the year: If the blessing may be said in other months, how does the law that the blessing may only be said once a year come to fruition? Does one calculate a year from when he blessed? Is it always calculated from Rosh Hashanah? If one said the blessing by the previous Nissan, may he now say it in Adar? If one saw it in Elul, may he now say it in Tishrei? A. Perhaps a year refers to the general blossoming season of each country, and not actually 365 days. Vetzaruch Iyun.

[7] Moreh Baetzbah 198 and Birkeiy Yosef 226:2 [in name of Mekubalim however in Moreh Baetzbah he implies that Bedieved it may be said afterwards]; Halachos Ketanos 2:28; Moed Lekol Chaiy 1:9; Pesach Hadvir 2:226 [according to Kabala]; Zechor Leavraham 3 Mareches Beis 26; Kaf Hachaim 226:1; opinions in Sdei Chemed Mareches Brachos 2:1; Rebbe in Igros Kodesh 23:365 [printed in Shulchan Menachem 1:350; Shaareiy Halacha Uminhag 1:220]; See Ashel Avraham Butchach 226; Nitei Gavriel Pesach 1

Opinion of Admur: The Ketzos Hashulchan 66 footnote 18 writes that is implied from Admur in the Luach 12:23 that the blessing may be said in Iyar. This is implied from the ruling of Admur that after 30 days from saying the blessing the first time [in Nissan], the blessing should be recited without Shem Umalchus. Now, thirty days since the first recital in Nissan lands within the month of Iyar, and we see that Admur nevertheless learns that it is still applicable to the blessing. However, the Rebbe in Igros Kodesh ibid writes that from the Seder Birchas Hanehnin 13:14 one can derive the opposite law, that one may only say the blessing in Nissan. This can also be supported from fact Admur in the Seder does not explain that the word Nissan is not exact. It is also deduced from the fact that he omitted the law of “if one may say the blessing again after thirty days,” which is written in the Luach. This omission is seemingly because in the Seder, Admur rules one may only say the blessing in Nissan, and hence saying it again thirty days later is irrelevant. [However, alternatively one can explain the omission of this Halacha due to that in the Seder Admur rules that the blessing may only be said once, thus, once it was said in Nissan, the question of repeating it thirty days later is irrelevant.]

[8] The reason: This is based on Kabala, as the Zohar [Balak 196] states that the souls of the upper worlds are found in gardens during the month of Nissan, and through saying the blessing, their souls are elevated. [Pesach Hadvir ibid] Alternatively, this is based on the Gemara ibid which states specifically Nissan.

[9] Ketzos Hashulchan 66 footnote 18

[10] Igros Kodesh ibid

[11]  Sdei Chemed Mareches Brachos 2; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 126:2

[12] Bireich Es Avraham 226 brought in Sdei Chemed ibid; Nitei Gavriel Pesach vol 1 Pesach

[13]  Minchas Yitzchak 10:16; Niteiy Gavriel 6:17; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 126:2

[14] Heard from sons of Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Groner OBM that he did not say the blessing and that so is the custom of many not to say it.

[15]  Nitei Gavriel Pesach vol. 1; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 126:3

[16] Lev Chaim 2:44; Betzel Hachachma 6:37; Beir Moshe 3:43; 8:79; Yechaveh Daas 1:2

[17] Nefesh David 2:19

[18] Moed Lekol Chaiy 1:9; Kaf Hachaim 226:3 “the custom is like this opinion”; Rav Eli Landau related to me that it was not accustomed to say the blessing on Shabbos, although this is not specifically a Chabad custom

[19] The reason: As one may come to pick the fruit off the tree, as well as that the blessing elevates the Divine sparks and is hence similar to Borer. [Kaf Hachaim ibid]

[20] Tzitz Eliezer 12:20 in name of Yayin Hatov 44; Rivivos Efraim 6:458; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 126:3

[21] See Ketzos Hashulchan 66 footnote 18; Piskeiy Teshuvos 226:7

[22] Ketzos Hashulchan 66 footnote 18 in his understanding of Admur in Siddur 13:14; Chayeh Adam 63:1; Kitzur SHU”A 60:1; Machatzis Hashekel 226 in opinion of M”A 225:9, brought in Shaar Hatziyon 226:3

Explanation of Machatzis Hashekel: The Machatzis Hashekel 226 rules that according to the Rama, the blessing may be said, as the Rama 225:3 rules regarding Shehechiyanu that it may be said the second time one eats the fruit, if it was not said the first time. However, according to those opinions [M”A 225:9] who argue on the Rama ibid by Shehechiyanu, that the blessing may not be said the second time, they would rule here that the blessing has been forfeited.

Analysis on the opinion of Admur in Siddur-Opinion of Rebbe: From the wording of Admur it is implied that the blessing may only be said the first time that one sees the blossoming, thus if he saw it and did not say the blessing, it may no longer be said. This is implied from the fact Admur does not write that one may only say the blessing one time a year, as writes the Michaber 226:1, but rather writes that the blessing is only said the first time of sight, thus directly coming to exclude saying the blessing after seeing the blossom for the second time. This is also implied from the fact that Admur in the Seder omitted the Halacha regarding saying the blessing a second time after the passing of thirty days. [Ketzos Hashulchan ibid] However, it is evident that the Rebbe does not learn this way in Admur, as in Igros Kodesh 23:365 [printed in Shulchan Menachem 1:350; Shaareiy Halacha Uminhag 1:220] the Rebbe learns that Admur omitted this law due to that he holds the blessing may only be said in Nissan. Thus, according to the Rebbe’s understanding, there is room to learn in Admur that the blessing may be said the second time, so long as he sees it in Nissan. Vetzaruch Iyun!

[23] The reason-Why may one not say the blessing upon the second sighting and how it differs from Shehechiyanu? It requires further analysis as to why Admur implies to rule that by Birchas Ilanos the blessing may not be said by the second sighting. Regarding the blessing of Shehechiyanu said over fruit, Admur does suspect for those opinions [Rama:Mahril] who hold the blessing may be said even if he already ate the fruit one time in the past, and Admur thus rules [Seder Birchas Hanehnin 11:13] that the blessing is said without Shem Umalchus, upon eating it a second time. Why does Admur not rule this way also regarding Birchas Ilanos? The Ketzos Hashulchan ibid explains as follows: Shehechiyanu is a blessing said as a result of one’s joy, and thus since it is possible to still receive joy even the second time one eats the new fruit, therefore Admur is stringent to suspect for the opinion of the Rama who requires Shehechiyanu to be said. However, Birchas Ilanos is a blessing said as praise to G-d for his creations, and not for one’s personnel pleasure. A proof for this can be brought from the fact that one only says the blessing one time a year, and if Birchas Ilanos were to be said due to one’s joy, then on would need to say the blessing on every species of blossoming trees that he sees, just as is the law by saying Shehechiyanu over each species of new fruit. From the fact that we do not rule this way, we see that even according to the Rama the blessing of Birchas Ilanos may only be said the first time, and thus Admur does not suspect for this opinion. [Ketzos Hashulchan ibid]

[24] Maharil 143; Mateh Moshe 361; Mamar Mordechai 226:1; Elya Raba 226; Mishneh Berurah 226:5 and in Shaar Hatziyon 226:3 that so is implied from Michaber; Kaf Hachaim 226:10; Birchas Habayis 29:14; Hisorerus Teshuvah 1:104

[25] The reason: The Elya Raba and Mishneh Berurah ibid rule that Birchas Ilanos may be said upon seeing the blossom tree for a second time, if he did not say the blessing the first time he saw it. Their reason is because the blessing of Birchas Ilanos is said due to one’s joy, just like the blessing of Shehechiyanu. This is unlike the ruling of Admur as explained above. [See Ketzos Hashulchan 66 footnote 18; Piskeiy Teshuvos 226 footnote 5]

[26] Elya Rabah 226; Mishneh Berurah 226:4; See Q&A below regarding saying the blessing on a tree with fruit

[27] The ruling of the Ketzos Hashulchan in Admur is very persuasive and hence is difficult to ignore. Nonetheless, as stated above, the Rebbe did not learn like this inference in Admur. To avoid doubt one can simply hear the blessing from another person, or say the blessing together with a child, having the child say after him word for word [see Admur 215:2], thus educating him in the blessing, and at the same time being Yotzei according to the second opinion here.

[28] Ketzos Hashulchan 63 footnote 9; Seemingly this case has the same ruling as saying Shehechiyanu on a new fruit of which the Ketzos Hashulchan ibid rules the that as long as one did not go to another area, and is thus still staring at the new fruit, the blessing of Shehechiyanu may be said.

[29] Ketzos Hashulchan 66 footnote 18; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 226:1

[30] The Chidah in Morah Bietzbah 198 writes that the blessing is said upon seeing two trees. [Perhaps this is hinted to in the plural statement of the word “trees” in this Halacha, as opposed to “when one sees a tree”] Nevertheless, this is only Lechatchilah, and thus if the blossoming is only on one tree the blessing is to be said.  [Vetzaruch Iyun regarding one who is stringent not to say the blessing upon the second sighting, even if he did not say it by the first sighting, as explained above, if he may delay the blessing when seeing a single tree.]

[31] Beir Heitiv 226:1 in name of Halachos Ketanos 2:28; Mishneh Berurah 226:2; Likkutei Sichos 23:116 [brought in Shaareiy Halacha Uminhag 1 p. 219; Shulchan Menachem 1:351]; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 226:5

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule the blessing may be recited even over non-fruit bearing trees. [Mor Uketzia 225; See Likkutei Sichos ibid]

[32] The reason: This is evident from [a) the blessing that we say “for humans to receive pleasure from” which is not applicable by non-fruit bearing trees, and] from the fact that the Michaber rules that once the fruits have grown the blessing may not be said. [Rebbe in Shaareiy Halacha Uminhag ibid]

[33] M”B 226:2; Piskeiy Teshuvos 126:3; So is implied from the above ruling that the blessing may only be said over fruit bearing trees

[34] Michaber 226:1; Tur 226; Birkeiy Yosef 226:1; Mamar Mordechai 226:1; Kaf Hachaim 226:9

[35] See Kaf Hachaim 226:9 who implies from the Levush that this refers to a fruit that grew until the point of Shehechiyanu, or a blessing of Haeitz, however, prior to this point, one may say a blessing. The M”B 226:4 however learns that according to this opinion, even prior to this point one can no longer say a blessing on the fruit.

[36] M”B 226:4 and Kaf Hachaim 226:9 that so is opinion of Beis Yosef

[37] Mordechai brought in Beis Yosef; Hagahos Maimanis; Abudarham; many Rishonim, brought in Shaar Hatziyon 226:2; Gr”a

[38] Elyah Rabah 226; Mishneh Berurah 226:4

[39] Mishneh Berurah 226:4 based on Peri Megadim and Chayeh Adam

[40] Kaf Hachaim 226:9

[41] See Piskeiy Teshuvos 226:6

[42]  Rav Poalim 2:36; Kaf Hachayim 226:11

[43] Yagel Yaakov 12 in name of Chasam Sofer 6:25 that the blessing is on the species and not the specific fruit

[44] Minchas Yitzchak 3:25; Yabia Omer 5:20

[45] See Piskeiy Teshuvos 226:6

[46] Reb Akivah Eiger 226; Divrei Malkiel 3:2; Kaf Hachaim 226:11

[47] Dovev Meisharim 3:5; Neta Shorek 9; Chelkas Yaakov 56; Beir Moshe 3:43; Mishnas Yosef 1:60

[48] Minchas Yitzchak 3:25; Yabia Omer 5:20

[49] Rebbe Akivah Eiger says that he is in doubt regarding this, and rules that in the Diaspora, the blessing may be said because safek Arla is allowed in the Diaspora.

[50] Piskeiy Teshuvos 126:1 footnote 7 that so is the worldly custom

[51] Birkeiy Yosef 226:2; Lev Chaim 2:44; Kaf Hachaim 226:1 and 3

The reason: As the souls are only found in the orchards that are outside the city. [ibid] A support for this ruling can be brought from the wording in the Talmud and Shulchan Aruch “One who leaves in the month of Nissan”, which can teach that one is specifically to leave the city. [Lev Chaim ibid]

[52]  Har Tzevi 226; Nitei Gavriel Pesach 6:6; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 226:1

[53] See Kaf Hachaim 226:8; Pesach Hadvir 226

[54] Balak 196                         

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