Birchat Ha'ilanot

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During the month of Nissan, as spring approaches, we can recite Birkat Ha'Ilanot which is a special Bracha for seeing fruit trees in blossom and is only recited once a year.[1]

A peach tree in blossom

Which Trees Suit the Bracha Requirements?

  1. One should only make the Bracha on a fruit tree and not a barren tree.[2] However, if one made a Bracha on a barren tree one shouldn't make another Bracha upon seeing a fruit bearing tree.[3]
  2. It is permissible to make a Bracha on a tree that was planted or guarded during Shemitta year. [4]
  3. It is permissible to make a Bracha on a tree that is within 3 years of being planted even though it is considered Orlah.[5]
  4. One should not make the Bracha on a tree which was made from grafting two species, however, there is what to rely on to make the Bracha.[6] Since the majority of fruit trees are not grafted, one may recite the beracha on any tree that one is unaware of its history.[7]
  5. It is questionable whether one may make a Bracha on a fruit tree which did not produce fruit the year one makes the Bracha. [8]
  6. Preferably the Bracha should be recited on trees located outside of the city.[9]

How many trees are needed to be able to make Birchat Ilanot?

  1. Some poskim hold that one should only make the Bracha upon seeing two fruit trees.[10] However, many poskim hold that one may make the Bracha even on one tree.[11]
  2. It's sufficient to have two trees of the same type but it is preferable to have at least two different types of trees.[12]

Text of Bracha

  1. The text of Birchat Ilanot is ברוך אתה ה׳ אלוקינו מלך העולם שלא חיסר בעולמו כלום וברא בו בריות טובות ואילנות טובות ליהנות בהם בני אדם.[13]
  2. If one forgot the words "Shelo Chiser Bolamo Klum" he still fulfilled his obligation.[14]

Who is Obligated?

  1. Men are obligated to recite the Birchat Ilanot.[15] However, the obligation to recite such a bracha is only if you see the trees flowering should you recite the bracha but not that you have to go and find them. However, it is a pious practice to do so.[16]
  2. Although there is a discussion if women are obligated since it could theoretically be considered a time-bound mitzvah, nonetheless, the poskim hold that women may recite Birchat Ilanot.[17]
  3. A blind person cannot make Birchat Ilanot, however, it is proper to listen to the Shaliach Tzibbur make the Bracha.[18]

Timing

  1. It is preferable to say the Birchat Ilanot in Nissan. However, if one has not yet made the Bracha before the end of Nissan, it is permissible to make it even after Nissan.[19] Nonetheless, in places that the trees bud in Adar one may make the bracha in Adar.[20]
  2. Preferably, one should say Birchat Ilanot the first time one sees a budding tree in Nissan. However, if one did not one may still recite Birchat Ilanot even if one previously saw a budding tree and did not make the Bracha the first time. [21]
  3. The Bracha is recited when the tree starts to bloom, meaning carry flowers; leaves are not enough.[22]
  4. If the tree's buds matured into fruits one may no longer make the Bracha. However if some of the fruit begin to grow and some flowers and buds remain one may still say the Bracha.[23]
  5. One may say Birchat Ilanot even on Shabbat, yet it is preferable to make it during the week if it does not result in one missing out on making the Bracha altogether.[24]
  6. One may say Birchat Ilanot even at night if there is enough light for one to distinguish between trees that are blooming and ones that are not.[25]
  7. In Australia, trees bud in Elul and Tishrei. One should therefore say Birchat Ilanot in those months rather than in Nissan.[26]

Procedure

  1. It is preferable to gather a minyan (10 people) in order to make the Bracha of Birchat Hailanot.[27]
  2. It is better for one person to say the Bracha out loud and everyone else to say it quietly to themselves.[28]

Seeing the Trees through Glass or a Video

  1. A person can recite Birkat Hailanot by seeing the trees through glass such as if he sees them through a window with glass.[29]
  2. A person can recite the bracha upon seeing the trees through glasses or binoculars.[30]
  3. One should not recite the bracha upon seeing the trees through a video, mirror, or a reflection of water.[31]

Links

Sources

  1. Tur and Shulchan Aruch 226:1. Rambam Brachot 10:13, Gemara Brachot 43b, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 60:1
  2. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 60:1, Mishna Brurah 226:2, Halachot Ketanot 2:28
  3. Chazon Ovadyah (Pesach pg 13), Yalkut Yosef Pesach pg. 128, Shevet Halevi 6:53, Rabbi Doniel Neustadt . Lehorot Natan 5:8 writes that there's no proof that really one can't recite the bracha upon a nice barren tree but nonetheless the halacha follows the Mishna Brurah.
  4. Halichot Shlomo (vol 1, 2:4), Rabbi Doniel Neustadt
  5. Chazon Ovadyah (Pesach pg 19), Rav Pealim 2:9, Dovev Meisharim 3:5, and Chelkat Yaakov 2:27 (2:56). Divrei Malkiel 3:2 rules that if one is sure that it is an orlah tree then he shouldn't say the Bracha on it. see also Toraland.org
  6. Chazon Ovadyah (Pesach pg 15), Nitei Gavriel (Pesach 6:13). Yabia Omer 5:20, Sdei Chemed Brachot 2:7, Minchat Yitzchak 3:25:3 and Ben Ish Chai Parashat Reeh Halacha 11 all say that its preferable not too as well. see also Rav Pealim 2:36
  7. Yalkut Yosef Pesach pg. 148
  8. Mishnat Yosef 1:60 writes that even if in that year it does not carry fruit but it is however a fruit tree one may make the Bracha. However, LeHorot Natan 5:8 and Maaseh Chemed (2 note 64) disagree. Chemdat Avraham 2:10 says it is not lechatchila but if there is no other tree you can make the Bracha.
  9. Chazon Ovadia page 8, Kaf Hachayim 226:3 quoting Lev Chayim 45.
  10. Chazon Ovadyah (Pesach pg 13-5 note 9), Sh"t Tzitz Eliezer 12:20(6). Halachot Ketanot 2:28 writes that one can only recite the bracha when seeing two trees.
  11. Nitei Gavriel (Pesach 6:11) writes that according to the strict law one may make Birchat Ilanot on one tree. Betzel Chachma 6:36:6, Kaf Hachaim 226:2, and Teshuvot Vihanhagot 1:191 agree. Rav Yitzchak Yosef (Motzei Shabbat Vayhakel Pekudei 5778 min 18-25 explained that the strict law is that one can recite the birchat ilanot on one tree and if it will cause bitul torah or the like one may recite the bracha on one tree.
  12. Chazon Ovadyah (Pesach pg 14), Halachot Ketanot 2:28. Kaf Hachayim 226:2 says also that it does not need to be 2 separate types.
  13. Shulchan Aruch 226:1. See further: Text of Brachot#Birchat Ilanot.
  14. Ateret Paz Birkat Hailanot p. 159 writes that if one forgot the words "Shelo Chiser Bolamo Klum" he still fulfilled his obligation. He quotes the Shevet Hakehati OC 6:133 who explains that the Kesef Mishna Brachot ch. 1 holds that as long as one said the correct concept of the bracha even if he changed some of the text he fulfilled his obligation. As long as he said shem, malchut, and the idea of the bracha he fulfilled his obligation.
  15. Shulchan Aruch 226:1, Gemara Berachot 43b
  16. Teshuvot Vehanhagot 1:190
  17. Yalkut Yosef (Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 226:2), Chazon Ovadyah (Pesach pg 10), Nitei Gavriel (Pesach 7:6), Har Tzvi 1:118, Tzitz Eliezer 12:25, Teshuvot Vehanhagot 1:190, Ohr Letzion 3: pg. 66
  18. Chazon Ovadyah (Pesach pg 28)
  19. The Gemara Brachot 43b writes that one who sees the budding of trees in Nissan should make the Birchat Ilanot. Many Rishonim (including the Ritva Rosh Hashana 11a, Sefer Eshkol pg 68) comment that this Bracha is commonly made in Nissan but does not necessarily have to be made then. This is also the opinion of the Mishna Brurah 226:1 which states that the Bracha may be made in months other than Nissan. Rav Ovadyah Yosef in Sh"t Yechave Daat 1:1 and Chazon Ovadyah (pg 25) argues that it should be made starting in Nissan (and not Adar to be strict and take into account the opinions of the Halachot Ketanot 2:28 and Chida in Birkei Yosef 226:2) and if one has not yet seen a tree in bloom, one should still say it in Iyar. Birkat Hashem 4: pg. 305 also says that bidieved, one may still recite the beracha on trees that are budding during Iyar. Sedei Chemed Berachot 2:1 and Kaf Hachayim 126:1 both rule that one should not say the Bracha before or after Nissan. Nitei Gavriel (Pesach 6:2) writes that it should be said in Nissan.
  20. Chazon Ovadyah (pg 28), Mishna Brurah 226:1, Aruch Hashulchan 226:1.
  21. Halichot Shlomo (vol 1, 2:5), Chazon Ovadyah (Pesach pg 24), Nitei Gavriel (Pesach 6:9)Machatzit Hashekel 226, Shaar Hatziyun 226:3 and Badei Hashulchan 46:18. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 60:1 and Kaf Hachaim 226:9 state that if one failed to say the Bracha upon seeing it for the first time one may no longer say the Bracha.
  22. Mishna Brurah 226:2
  23. Chazon Ovadyah (Pesach pg 26-7). This is also implied by Mishna Brurah 226:4.
  24. Chazon Ovadyah (Pesach pg 20), Nitei Gavriel (Pesach 6:9). Kaf Hachayim 226:4 quotes the Moed likol chai that the Bracha should not be said on Shabbat or Yom Tov because we are worried that one may come to shake or break a branch. He adds that according to Kabbalah the Bracha should not be said on Shabbat or Yom Tov. Ohr Letzion vol. 3 pg. 69 is strict for this opinion. Rav Ovadia Yosef in Yechave Daat 1:2 writes that preferably one should not say it on Shabbat unless it is the last day of nissan and one still has not yet recited the Bracha. Rabbi Meir Mazuz (Hashem Nisi vol. 2 Halacha 10) agrees
  25. Chazon Ovadyah (Pesach pg 11), Yalkut Yosef Pesach pg. 194, Tzitz Eliezer 12:20(6)
  26. Nitei Gavriel (Pesach 6:17)
  27. Chazon Ovadyah (Pesach pg 12), Nitei Gavriel (Pesach 6:14), Birkat Hashem vol. 4 pg. 305
  28. Chazon Ovadyah (Pesach pg 12)
  29. Chazon Ovadyah (Pesach pg 29), Atret Paz Birchat Ilanot p. 156 based on Shaarei Teshuva 426.
  30. Ateret Paz (Birkat Hailanot p. 153). Nevertheless, Halacha Berura 226:18 writes that it is proper to stand at a distance where it can be seen even without the binoculars
  31. Ateret Paz (Birkat Hailanot p. 156). One of his proofs is Rav Ovadia Yosef in Yechava Daat 2:28, Betzel Hachachma 2:11, and Beer Moshe 2:9:3 who write that seeing a king through a video doesn't allow one to recite the bracha upon seeing a king.