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Beit Midrash Shabbat and Holidays The Month of Nissan

Hospital Treetment

an amazing story about birchat ilanot (the annual blessing made upon seeing fruit trees blossoming, in the month of Nissan).
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"One who goes out in the month of Nissan and sees budding trees says "blessed are You, Hashem, God, who is King of the world, who did not cause any deficiency in His world, and created in it good creations and good trees, in order to benefit people." (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim, siman 226)


It was a late afternoon in Nissan. Shlomi put away his gardening tools, clapped the dirt off of his hands, and gave a brief synopsis to the customer of the work that had been done. Work done, Shlomi headed off for his next destination. He pulled into the hospital parking lot. Shlomi pushed the ‘4’ button in the elevator, and ran over to his father’s room.
Shlomi wedged a chair between his father’s bed and the white and green striped curtain that hung in the middle of the room. Shlomi began telling his father about his day, when he noticed that his father seemed a little more distracted than usual.
"Dad, is something bothering you?" Shlomi asked.
"It’s Nissan." Shlomi’s father sighed.
Shlomi waited for some further explanation. None was forthcoming. "Dad, um, why is the month of Nissan making you upset?"
"Don’t you remember, Shlomi?" his father paused again. "Shlomi, in Nissan we’re supposed to say birchat ilanot (the annual blessing made upon seeing fruit trees blossoming, in the month of Nissan). You know how I always look forward to making the blessing in the garden I planted, with my own two hands. Now what will I do this year, stuck in the hospital like this?"
Shlomi couldn’t think of anything to say. Indeed, his father’s garden was a popular location for many people in the neighborhood to recite birchat ilanot. His father took such pleasure in sharing the beauty of Hashem’s trees with his neighbors, and in reciting the blessing himself. Shlomi was saddened that he had no way to help his father.
And then it came to him. He didn’t say anything about his plans to his father, but eagerly awaited the next evening’s hospital visit.
The next day, Shlomi’s entrance to the hospital evoked some curious glances. He just smiled politely and continued walking. As the elevator door opened, he made his way to his father’s room.
Shlomi’s father was lying with his eyes gently closed.
"Dad, I brought a surprise for you. I hope you like it!"
His father opened his eyes, and started to laugh. Shlomi had brought… a tree! A real live fruit tree, with roots and soil!
Tears streamed down Shlomi’s father’s face, as he gratefully recited birchat ilanot.
Did Shlomi act correctly, given that there is a prohibition against uprooting a fruit tree?

Answer of Rabbi Avigdor Nebenzahl, shlita:
It is true that there is a prohibition against uprooting a fruit tree, as the Torah says "you shall not destroy its trees" (Devarim 20:19). However, in this case, it was permitted, provided that Shlomi intended to return the tree to the ground after the blessing was made. (It is written in She’elat Yaavetz 1, 76, that it is permitted to uproot a fruit tree with its roots and a mass of earth, in order to replant the tree in a place in which the tree is capable of surviving.)
It is true that there are poskim who opine that it is not permitted to say birchat ilanot on a single tree. Rather, these authorities contend, the blessing must be made on a minimum of two trees, as the gemara states "…and sees trees blossoming." However, in practice, we do not follow this opinion, and it is sufficient to make a blessing upon seeing a single fruit tree.
However, if the tree were in its first three years of growth, it is a matter of debate as to whether it is permitted to make a blessing on the tree. This is because the wording of the blessing is "…good trees for people to enjoy them…" and, a tree within its first three years is orla, and it is forbidden to benefit from its fruit. Therefore, there are poskim who rule that a tree must have entered its fourth year in order to be suitable to use for this blessing. Other poskim maintain that it is permitted to make a blessing even over a tree that has the orla restriction.
In summary: Shlomi was allowed to uproot the tree, on condition that he intended to replant the tree.
Rabbi Daniel Kirsch
Rabbi Daniel Kirsch studied for many years at the famed Mercaz HaRav yeshiva in Jerusalem. He currently lives in Kedumim in the Shomron, where he studies at the yeshiva and teaches classes for adults. In addition, he teaches at an elementary school.
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