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Fruit trees and Jews

Rabbi Yoel LiebermanCheshvan 18, 5775
791
Question
I live in North Miami Beach, and we have a nice sized yard. There are two fruit trees (one, a white mulberry and two, a Canistel or egg fruit tree) which I would like to cut down. We do not eat the fruit of these trees, and the fruit and leaves make a constant mess. I have asked over the years if anyone would want the fruit of the canistel and very few people like it. It is a fruit tree from South America, very sweet but not very popular. I cannot even give away the fruit. The other tree is a white mulberry tree, which the birds love but I will not pick the mulberries because they are too hard to check for bugs. I would like to take both these fruit trees down. I remember a previous Jewish neighbor once ’sold’ one of his coconut palms to a non-Jew for about a dollar so it would not be his when he cut it down. Is this halachically permitted (to sell a fruit tree to a non-Jew so it can be cut down)? I would give anything to cut these trees down but I never inquired if it could be done if I were not the owner. (I have additional trees in my yard, and two huge avocado trees in particular that I grew from seed. My family loves sweet oranges, and I would like to grow orange trees in the place of the canistel). Thank you kindly for your reply.
Answer
ב"ה Shalom According to your description in which the fruit is left to waste and it makes a mess, it is justified by Halacha to remove it. Likewise needing the room that the tree takes is also justified since what the Torah forbade is needless destruction of a tree. However, many Rabbis say that due to symbolic and kabbalistic significance of the tree, say it should be removed by selling the tree to a non- Jew or at least by having it removed by a non-Jew. .(ט"ז יור"ד סי' קט"ז, סעיף ו, שו"ת טוב עין לחיד"א סי' ט, עץ השדה סי' ג סעיף ט,)
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