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Bracha on Trees in Nisan


What is the minhag of saying a bracha on a tree after rosh chodesh nissan? What is the correct way to do it?


The Gemara (Brachos 43a) states that one who sees blossoming fruit trees during Nissan recites, “Boruch Atta Hashem, Elokeinu Melech ha’olam, shelo chisar ba’olamo davar, u’vara vo briyos tovos v’ilanos tovim,l’hanos bahem bnei adam” – “Blessed are You… for nothing is lacking in His world, and He created in it good creatures and good trees, to cause mankind pleasure with them.”

Although technically this bracha is included in the “birchos ha’re’iyah” – brachos recited when seeing and experiencing various phenomena such as mountains, oceans, earthquakes, etc., nevertheless in halachic literature it is set apart from the others with its own chapter in Shulchan Aruch. Moreover, its uniqueness is especially evident in the Kabbalastic sources, where it is viewed as a vehicle to effect various positive accomplishments in the spiritual realm.

Strictly speaking, this bracha is similar to the other birchos ha’re’iyah in that one is not obligated to go out of his way to become obligated to recite the bracha. Just as one is not required to fly to Switzerland in order to recite the bracha on the Alps, so too one is not obligated to seek out blossoming fruit trees. Indeed severalposkim mention the fact that most people are not accustomed to recite this bracha. Nevertheless, the poskimdo speak very highly of those who make the effort to recite this special bracha and that it is the custom oftalmidei chachamim to do so (Levush, Aruch HaShulchan and Eishel Avraham [of Butchach] 226). It is interesting to note that Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach z”l was very careful to recite this bracha and he mentioned that since his bar mitzvah he had never missed a year (Halichos Shlomo, Tefilah, chap. 23, footnote 121).


There is a disagreement whether this bracha must be recited specifically during Nissan or if one can recite it before or after. Some contend that since the Gemara and the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 226) both write “Nissan,” that is when it should be recited. This is also the opinion of those who follow Kabbalistic practices (Kaf HaChaim 226:1; Badei HaShulchan #18). Others maintain that when the Gemara says, “Nissan,” it does not mean to exclude other months. Rather, the reason why the Gemara mentions “Nissan” is because it is the usual time when the trees begin blossoming (Mishnah Berurah 226:1; Badei HaShulchan ibid; Shu’t Yechave Da’as vol. I, #1).

Therefore, it seems that lechitchilah, one who follows Ashkenazi practices should wait until Nissan and thereby follow the stringent opinions. However, if he is afraid that he will not have a blossoming tree available in Nissan, or if it is already Iyar and he has not yet recited the bracha, he may do so during a different month. Later we will discuss until what stage in the fruit’s development this bracha can be recited.

However, those who follow Sephardic minhagim should consult his or her Rav since there is a disagreement whether the bracha may be recited in any month other than Nissan. (See Kaf HaChaim ibid. and Shu’t Yechaveh Da’as ibid.


This disagreement whether one may recite bircas ilanos during months other than Nissan only applies to countries such as Eretz Yisrael, where the trees blossom at that time. In areas where winter ends late, e.g., northern Europe, and blossoms do not appear until Iyar, or in the southern hemisphere where the seasons are reversed and the trees blossom in Tishrei, everyone agrees that the bracha is recited during whichever month the trees blossom (Shu’t Har Tzvi, Orach Chaim I, #118; Shu’t Tzitz Eliezer, vol. XII, #20; Aruch HaShulchan226:1).


Another disagreement between Sefardi and Ashkenazi poskim is whether one may recite this bracha on Shabbos. The Kaf HaChaim (226:4) maintains that one should not recite the bracha on Shabbos since there is concern that he might come to pluck a fruit blossom from the tree. Indeed Rav Chaim Palagi writes that although the custom of the city of Kushta (Constantinople/Istanbul) was to recite the bracha on Shabbos, the custom of the city of Izmir was not to (Sefer Mo’aid l’Kol Chai 1:8). However, other Sefardi poskim disagree with the Kaf HaChaim and cite a Gemara in Succah (36b). The Gemara states that on Shabbos or Yom Tovone is allowed to smell a hadas (myrtle) that is attached to the ground, but he is not allowed to smell an esrogthat is attached. The reason for this distinction is that since a hadas’ main function is for its aroma, one will not come to detach it since he can just as easily smell it while it is attached. However, one may not smell anesrog, since it is generally used for eating, and he might come to detach it from the tree (Rashi ad loc.). This is also the halacha in Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 336:10). Therefore, with regards to bircas ilanos, which is even less than smelling a hadas since he is merely looking at the flowers, one may recite the bracha on Shabbos (Shu’t Yechave Da’as, vol. I, #2).

The Ashkenazi poskim do not discuss this question at all, and it would seem that they permit reciting this bracha on Shabbos. (Sefer VeZos HaBracha pg. 157; Halichos v’Hanhagos of Rav Elyashiv, quoted in Haggadah shel Pesach, Keren Re’eim edition, 5766).


According to Kabbalistic sources, in order to recite this bracha, lechatchilah, one should leave the city and go to a place where there are many trees. This is based on the Gemara which says, “One who goes out during the days of Nissan and sees trees.” The fact that it says “goes out” is understood to mean that one goes out of the city, and “trees” being plural indicates that there should be more than one (Kaf HaChaim 226:2-3; Shu’t Lev Chaim, vol. II, #44). However, these two ideas are not mentioned by the Rishonim or the poskim. Rather, one may recite the bracha on trees in one’s courtyard or anywhere else (Avudraham; Chayei Adam 63:2).

With regards to the number of trees required, while some poskim contend that lechatchilah one should recite the bracha on at least a minimum of two trees (Kaf HaChaim ibid; Moreh b’Etzbah #148; Halichos v’Hanhagos of Rav Elyashiv, quoted in Haggadah shel Pesach, Keren Re’eim edition, 5766), others maintain that even one tree is sufficient. Although the Gemara uses the plural form, “trees,” which seems to indicate a minimum of two, there are other places in the Gemara where the plural is used and nevertheless a single item is also included. For example, when the Mishnah (Brachos 54a) lists the phenomena upon which one recites “oseh ma’ase bereishis,” it states: “On mountains… oceans, rivers and deserts” – all plural form. Yet, the halacha is that one recites the bracha even when seeing only one of each (Shu’t Tzitz Eliezer, vol. XII, #20; See Shu’t Rivevos Efraim, vol. VIII, #77, who reports seeing Rav Moshe Feinstein z”l recite the bracha on one tree).


Before discussing the last possible time for reciting birchos ilanos, we must briefly describe the growth process of fruit and their blossoms. Many fruits, such as nectarines, plums, apricots, cherries, oranges and pomegranates, develop from a blossoming flower. At first the flower comes out of the bud. After pollination, the flower falls away and the fruit, although extremely small, can be seen. The fruit continues to grow until it ripens.

In general, birchos ha’re’iyah are meant to be a spontaneous expression of praising and thanking Hashem for the various phenomena that He has created. Hence, there are opinions that one may only recite the appropriate bracha immediately upon seeing the particular phenomenon, and if he did not do so, he has lost the opportunity. That being the case, the same should apply to bircas ilanos, and indeed there are poskim who maintain this position (Machtzis HaShekel 225:9; Chayei Adam 63:1; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 60:1).

However, the Mishnah Berurah (226:5) comes to a different conclusion. He contends that even if one did not recite the bracha the first time he saw the blossoms, he may do so when seeing them at a later time, provided the fruit is not yet visible, i.e., the blossom has not yet fallen off.

In a situation where one did not see blossoming trees at all, there is room to be even more lenient. In this case, the Mishnah Berurah (4) holds that one may recite the bracha up to, but not including, the stage when the fruit is fully ripe. Once the fruit has ripened, one should no longer recite the bracha.

The reason why in general we are more lenient regarding bircas ilanos as opposed to the other birchos ha’re’iyah is based on the previously mentioned idea that these brachos are expressions of one’s hispa’alus – amazement over the various phenomena. Most of the birchos ha’re’iyah are not limited to any specific time of year, and the phenomena are available for viewing at any time. However, bircas ilanos is different. The brachacan only be recited during a specific time frame on an event that is limited. Therefore, a person tends to feelhispa’alus over the blossoming during the entire blossoming season (Piskei Teshuvos 226, footnote 54).


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