Selected Halachos Related to Parshas Vayikra
By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt
A discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the
week. For final rulings, consult your Rav.
SELECTED HALACHOS RELATING TO PARSHAS VAYIKRA
BIRKAS HA-ILANOS: THE BLESSING OVER TREES IN BLOOM
Rosh Chodesh Nissan marks the beginning of the season for Birkas ha-Ilanos -
the blessing we recite upon seeing fruit trees in bloom. Since this
blessing, which extols Hashem's ongoing renewal of creation(1), is recited
only once a year(2), its halachos are difficult to remember. Women, too, may
recite this blessing since it is not considered a "time-related mitzvah"
from which women are exempt(3).
THE TEXT OF THE BLESSING:
The text of the blessing, as quoted in all of the early sources(4), is as
follows: Boruch ata Hashem Elokeinu melech haolam shelo chisar baolamo klum
uvara vo beriyos tovos(5) vilanos tovim lehanos bahem beni adam.
In several siddurim(6) the word davar appears instead of the word klum. But
since all of the early sources indicate that the original text had the word
klum, not the word davar, and the reason for the change is unsubstantiated,
it is, therefore, proper to follow the early sources and recite the word
klum and not the word davar(7).
WHEN IS BIRKAS HA-ILANOS RECITED?
The l'chatchilah, preferred time to recite this blessing is immediately
upon seeing a fruit tree in bloom during the month of Nissan. Most poskim
agree that the halachah mentions Nissan since generally, that is the month
in which trees begin to bloom(8). Accordingly, in an area where they start
blooming in Adar(9), or where they do not bloom until Iyar or Sivan(10), the
blessing should be recited in those months(11). In the countries where fruit
trees blossom in Tishrei or Cheshvan, the blessing should be said at that
If a tree bloomed in Nissan, but one did not see it until later, he may
recite the blessing the first time he sees the tree as long as the fruit of
the tree has not yet ripened. Once the fruit has ripened, the blessing may
no longer be said(13).
One who saw the trees in bloom during Nissan, but forgot or neglected to
recite the blessing, may recite the blessing at a later date but only until
the time that the fruit of the tree has begun to grow(14).
The blessing is said upon seeing the actual blooming (flowering) of the
tree. The growth of leaves alone is not sufficient to allow one to recite
Some poskim(16) hold that this blessing should not be said on Shabbos and
Yom Tov, since we are concerned that it may lead to shaking or breaking a
branch off the tree. All other poskim who do not mention this concern(17),
apparently do not forbid reciting this blessing on Shabbos and Yom Tov(18).
It is customary, though, to recite the blessing only during the week(19),
unless the last day of Nissan falls on Shabbos(20).
The blessing may be said at night(21).
WHICH TREES REQUIRE BIRKAS HA ILANOS?
Birkas ha-Ilanos is said only on fruit-bearing trees(22). If one mistakenly
said the blessing on a barren tree, he need not repeat the blessing on a
The poskim debate whether one is allowed to say the blessing on a tree
which has been grafted from two species, since the halachah does not permit
such grafting(24). It is preferable not to make the blessing on such a
Some acharonim prohibit the recitation of the blessing on an orlah
tree(26). A tree is considered orlah for the first three years after it is
planted. Many other poskim, however, permit reciting the blessing on an
During the year of shemittah in Eretz Yisrael, it is permitted to recite
the blessing even on a tree which - in violation of the halachah - has been
BIRKAS HA ILANOS - HIDDUR MOTZVAH
There are several hiddurim mentioned in the poskim concerning this
once-a-year mitzvah. According to the kabbalah, especially, this blessing
has special significance. Among the hiddurim are:
The blessing should be recited on two or more trees. No blessing is said on
a single tree(29). Although the two trees do not have to be from two
different species(30), several poskim mention that the more trees the
better(31). Indeed, l'chatchilah the blessing should be said on trees in an
orchard that is planted outside the city limits(32).
The blessing should be recited in the presence of a minyan followed by
Kaddish. Before the blessing is recited, V'yehi noam followed by Hallelukah
hallelu Keil min ha-shamayim is said(33).
The blessing should be recited at the earliest possible time, which is on
Rosh Chodesh Nissan, unless it falls on Shabbos or it is raining(34).
1 Shitah Mekubetzes, Berachos 43b.
2 O.C. 226:1.
3 Har Tzvi O.C. 118.
4 See Berachos 43b, Rambam (Berachos 10:13); Rokei'ach pg. 235; Ohr Zarua
1:179; Avudraham (Berachos); Tur and Shulchan Aruch O.C. 226; Siddur Rav
Yaakov Emden; Chayei Adam 63:2; Siddur Ba'al ha-Tanya; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch
60:1; Aruch ha-Shulchan 226:1
5 The text in some of the early sources [including Rambam and Shulchan
Aruch] is 'tovos.' [According to dikduk, tovim is the proper form, since
ilan is lashon zachar, as in the Mishnah (Avos 3:7): ilan zeh.]
6 Siddur ha-Gra; Minchas Yerushalayim; ArtScroll. The source may be Sefer
ha-Eshkol, pg. 68.
7 Minchas Yitzchak 10:16; mi-Beis Levi (Nissan 5756).
8 Mishnah Berurah 226:1, quoting acharonim.
9 Be'er Heitev O.C. 226:1.
10 Aruch ha-Shulchan 226:1.
11 Note that there are several poskim who hold that according to kabbalah,
this blessing should be recited only during Nissan. See Sdei Chemed
(Berachos 2:1) and Kaf ha-Chayim 126:1 who rule that one should not recite
this blessing before or after Nissan.
12 Har Tzvi O.C. 118; Minchas Yitzchak 10:16.
13 Mishnah Berurah 226:4.
14 Mishnah Berurah 226:5. L'chatchilah, however, one should be particular to
recite the blessing the first time he sees the blossoming, since several
poskim maintain that the blessing may not be said if one failed to say it
the first time; see Machatzis ha-Shekel 226; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 60:1;
Sha'ar ha-Tziyun 226:3 and Ketzos ha-Shulchan (Badei ha-Shulchan 46:18). For
this reason it is important to know the text of the blessing by heart so
that the blessing can be said as soon as blossoms are seen.
15 Mishnah Berurah 226:2.
16 Kaf ha-Chayim 226:4 quoting Moed Kol Chai. Kaf ha-Chayim also rules that
according to kabbalah, this blessing may not be said on Shabbos and Yom Tov.
17 Indeed, it is clearly permissible to smell a hadas which is attached to a
tree on Shabbos since we are not concerned that the branch will be broken
off, O.C. 336:10.
18 Teshuvos Lev Chayim 2:44.
19 Mi-Beis Levi, Nissan 5756.
20 Yechaveh Da'as 1:2.
21 Tzitz Eliezer 12:20-6.
22 Mishnah Berurah 226:2.
23 Shevet ha-Levi 6:53.
24 Both views are brought in Kaf ha-Chayim 225:26 and 226:11.
25 Ben Ish Chai (Re'eh 11); Sdei Chemed (Berachos 2:7); Minchas Yitzchak
Yabia Omer 5:20.
26 R' Akiva Eiger (Gilyon O.C. 226); Divrei Malkiel 3:2. If one is in doubt
whether the tree is orlah, a blessing may be said according to all views.
27 Dovev Meishorim 3:5; Chelkas Yaakov 2:27.
28 Harav S. Vozner (mi-Beis Levi, Nissan 5756).
29 Chida (Moreh b'Etzba 198). Although there are poskim who hold that
halachically two trees are required and no blessing is said when only one
tree is seen, see Chazon Ovadyah, pg. 9-10, most poskim do not mention this
requirement. See also Ketzos ha-Shulchan (Badei ha-Shulchan 46:18) that
l'chatchilah, two trees are required for the blessing.
30 Kaf ha-Chayim 226:2.
31 Teshuvos Halachos Ketanos 2:28.
32 Teshuvos Lev Chayim 45 quoted in Kaf ha-Chayim 226:3 and in Chazon
Ovadyah, pg. 8.
33 See entire procedure in Kaf ha-Chayim 226:7-8.
34 Mi-Beis Levi (Nissan 5756).
Weekly-Halacha, Copyright © 2002 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and
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Rabbi Neustadt is the principal of Yavne
Teachers' College in Cleveland, Ohio. He is also the Magid Shiur of a daily
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