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Should we first say a blessing on fruit from Israel or with kedushat shevi'it

Should we first say a blessing on fruit from Israel or with kedushat shevi'it

Should we recite a berachah on fruit from the Land of Israel before fruit from chutz la'aretz? If so, under which circumstances?

Rabbi Shmuel Aryeh Yismach, Emunat Itecha 142, p. 64, 5784


If someone is planning on eating several fruits, and one is from the Land of Israel, should he specifically say ha'eitz on that fruit? If the fruit from the Land of Israel is granted priority, would it even take precedence over a fruit from chutz-la'aretz that is one of the shivat haminim or a whole fruit? Does a fruit with kedushat shevi'it come first? Is there sanctity in fruits from the Land of Israel and those that ripen during the shemitah year?1


When presented with a variety of fruits with the same berachah, we should say the blessing on the most important food according to the following hierarchy:
(1) shivat haminim (seven species) (2) shalem (whole) (3) chaviv (preferred, favorite) (4) nakki (high-quality – beautiful and fresh) (5) gadol (large).2 The fruit that is highest on the list receives priority for saying the blessing (this priority relates only to the fruit on which we recite the blessing. However, after we already said the blessing on the first fruit and tasted it, there is no set order to eat the rest of the fruits). For instance: if someone had to choose from several fruits in front of him, he should say ha'eitz on the fruit from shivat haminim (and if there are several, the fruit closer to the word eretz, "land," in the verse "ארץ חיטה ושעורה ארץ תאנה ורימון ארץזית שמן ודבש"). If none of the fruits are from shivat haminim, the blessing should be recited on a whole fruit. If there are several whole fruits, or all of them are sliced, one's favorite fruit should be used to say the blessing. If one likes all of the fruits equally, one should say the blessing on the fruit that is most beautiful and fresh. If the fruits are of equivalent quality, the largest fruit should be selected. The question we will address here is: does the fact that one of the fruits grew in the Land of Israel have significance vis-à-vis the laws of kedimut (priority)?

  1. Opinions that the fruits of the Land of Israel are not given priority

Neither the Rishonim nor most of the Acharonim mention that priority should be given to fruits grown in the Land of Israel. This seems to be the reason that most modern posekim rule that this fruit is not granted priority. One can conjecture that this priority would not be mentioned by early halachic authorities since fruit from the Land of Israel was unavailable in other countries (where Jews lived). The difficulty with this argument, though, is that there are many places in halachic literature where we find discussions regarding fruit from the Land of Israel in chutz la'aretz. In the sections below, we will explain why most posekim do not grant priority to fruit from the Land of Israel.

  1. Equation to the rules governing shivat haminim

Some authorities write that because priority is granted to the fruits of the seven species special to the Land of Israel, this might indicate that any fruit grown in the Land of Israel should be given priority.3 However, this premise can be refuted as such: the Torah did not glorify the seven species because they grow in the Land of Israel. Rather, the Torah praises the Land of Israel by noting that the seven species grow there since these species are inherently praiseworthy. This sheds light on why the halachah grants priority to shivat haminim even when they grow outside the Land of Israel. Moreover, even if we say that the reason for granting priority to the seven species is due to the special qualities of the Land of Israel and not due to their independent importance, as noted above, this cannot be used as proof for our matter. Priority may be given only to the type of fruit associated with the praise of the Land of Israel, such as dates and pomegranates, but priority should not be given to other types of fruits grown there, such as oranges, since it is not blatantly different than any other orange grown outside of Israel (and for other reasons).

  1. Sanctity in the fruits of the Land of Israel

Fruits grown in the Land of Israel have spiritual qualities, as noted famously by the Bach (OH 208:8), the Bayit Chadash by Rabbi Yoel Sirkis, who states that the fruits grown in the Land of Israel are imbued with sanctity. Why, then, would these fruits not be given priority? We will cite three rationales:

  1. It seems that the sanctity mentioned by the Bach, who dealt extensively with kabbalah, is of a hidden, kabbalistic nature. Halachah, however, does not take into account these elusive, enigmatic matters. In addition, the Bach mentions this in the context of explaining the version of me'ein shalosh including "ונאכל מפריה" "and we will eat of its fruits.". He did not rule that this terminology should be used based on his deep insights and certainly did not intend to innovate a halachic ruling with this statement.

  2. According to the Bach, the sacred status of the land, and hence, its fruits, changes based on the circumstance. The Bach writes that in the unfortunate event that the Jewish People defile the land, this impurity would extend to its produce. Other authorities write in a similar vein. Some have argued that while there is sanctity inherent in produce growing in the Land of Israel, merely consuming the fruit for physical pleasure without spiritual intent would not elevate the individual, but would have a contrary effect. Therefore, until we merit a complete redemption, there is room to say that we should not grant priority to the fruit of the Land of Israel since it is not yet clear whether G-d imbued this fruit with sanctity.
    This discussion also leads to the question: Would the fruits still be considered sacred if the orchard owner is a heretic or an Antisemitic non-Jew? Furthermore, if the fruits were cultivated, G-d forbid, through the violation of Shabbat or shemitah, would they retain their sacred status?! (Of course not! – M.B.) Lastly, given that these fruits are not deemed sacred at all times, it follows that they should not necessarily be granted priority even during the periods when they are considered sacred, as halachah does not prescribe rules that apply uniformly at all times.

  3. It appears that not everyone agrees with the Bach. Some Rishonim and Acharonim hold that the phrase ""ונאכל מפריה should be omitted at the end of me'ein shalosh since it is improper to request to make Aliya to the Land of Israel specifically for the purpose of consuming its produce. The Bach counters this view, providing the rationale behind this text, contending that there is sanctity inherent in the produce of the Land of Israel. However, it seems that many disagree with him, including the Semag, Semak, Riccanati, Levush and (apparently) the Tur. This is also implied by the Beit Yosef, Perishah, Ya'avetz, and other authorities, including, in my opinion, Rabbi Yehushua ibn Shuaib, Megaleh Amukot, Gra and others. It is noteworthy that more than 25 Rishonim do not include the words "ונאכל מפריה" in their version of me'ein shalosh. Many Acharonim, too, maintain that these words should be excluded (including Magen Avraham, Levush, Gra, Aruch Hashulchan, and Sha'ar Tziyon). Indeed, the current Sephardic custom, as well as that of some Ashkenazim in the past, is to omit these words. A possible proof for the Bach's dissenters is that we do not find any early sources that attribute spiritual value to the produce of the Land of Israel; such assertions emerge only from the Bach's time and onwards. In contrast, many earlier sources praise the Land of Israel both for its physical and spiritual qualities and only for the physical qualities of its produce. It seems that we can reconcile these perspectives by acknowledging the sanctity in the produce of the Land of Israel, as posited by the Bach; yet noting that his dissenters would argue that this sanctity is not tangible enough for us to say that, from our perspective, it possesses holiness.

  1. Priority since one mitzvah was already performed with it

A halachic rule employed in various contexts is "כיון שנעשת בו מצוה אחת, תיעשה בו מצוה אחרת", "since one mitzvah was already done with it, perform another mitzvah with it."
This is the rationale provided for favoring the use of the loaf designated for the eruv tavshilin and eruv chatzerot as lechem mishneh on Shabbat. In light of this, since mitzvot dependent on the Land of Israel, such as terumot and ma'aserot, were performed with fruit grown in the Land of Israel, it follows that one should engage in another mitzvah with the fruit, namely say the ha'eitz blessing.

This line of reasoning can be rejected, however, since the mitzvot of terumot and ma'aserot cannot be equated to the mitzvah of eiruv tavshilin. With eiruv tavshilin, the loaf itself is used to perform the mitzvah. In contrast, terumot and ma'aserot involve a mitzvah performed with the parts of the produce, which are separated and designated as terumah. Although the rest of the produce is deemed permissible for consumption through the separation, the mitzvah is not performed with these parts of the produce. This distinction is acknowledged by some authorities (while others disagree). In this way we can understand why there is no concept of favoring a loaf from which challah was separated4 for eruv tavshilin.

There is also room to reject this approach by distinguishing between lechem mishneh and the ha'eitz blessing: For lechem mishneh, the loaf itself is used to perform the mitzvah. In contrast, when reciting ha'eitz, the mitzvah is not performed utilizing the fruit; rather, it is performed though the spoken word; the fruit is merely the object through which the obligation to say the blessing arises.

Yet, the Sefer Ha'ittim maintains that the above rule can also apply to the ha'eitz blessing. In a long, comprehensive article, we examine the parameters of the rule "תיעשה בו מצוה אחרת," where we cite all of the places where this rule is applied.

Yet another case against this approach is as follows: Even if we say that fruits of the Land of Israel should receive preference because a mitzvah was already performed with them, in any case, this might give them precedence only to a whole or preferred fruit – or perhaps they would even appear at the bottom of the precedence hierarchy.

  1. Chaviv (preferred) for fruit from the Land of Israel

One of the parameters discussed in the laws of priority for blessings is chaviv; that is, a fruit that a person generally prefers due to its taste (or other reasons). Consequently, we could argue that for one who has a preference for fruit from the Land of Israel, these fruits would fall under the category of chaviv. Indeed, several modern posekim rule in this vein.5 However, there are those who contend that spiritual preferences due to mitzvah-related use should not be considered in this context; the opposite is true, since we are not supposed to derive benefit from mitzvot6 However, in my humble opinion, if someone has a personal preference for fruit grown in the Land of Israel, they would assume the status of chaviv for the laws of priorities.

It seems that Rabbi Elyashiv would rule that chaviv can apply to a fruit preferred due to its spiritual status; he is quoted to have ruled that in the case of a chassid who receives a fruit as sherayim from his Rebbe, due to which the fruit is very precious to him, the fruit does receive the status of chaviv. I found support for this approach also from Rabbi Pinchas HaLevy A.B.D. Brodshein and others, who write that shemitah fruit can have the status of chaviv. The following may serve as proof for this approach: in the context of the rules of priority for blessings, we see that bread that is both tahor (ritually pure) and nakki (high quality) takes priority to bread which is tameh and nakki (impure and high-quality); but if the impure bread is high-quality while the pure bread is not, one may give priority to whichever loaf one wants. From here the posekim learn that high-quality bread beaked by a Jew (pat Yisrael) takes precedence over high-quality bread beaked by a gentile in his bakery. And if the bread baked by a gentile is clean and the bread baked by a Jew is not, one has the prerogative to prefer the loaf of his choice. Here we have two examples of priority given to pure bread and bread baked by a Jew, even though the only distinctive quality in either is spiritual. We can discuss whether the reason for the preference for bread that is pure/baked by a Jew stems from the rule of chaviv; in the comprehensive article, we discuss this topic at length.

It seems that some assert that the fruit of the Land of Israel can be considered chaviv even for those who do not express a particular preference for them. This perspective, however, represents a lone opinion (da'at yachid). It seems that most posekim do not adopt this approach because many people actually prefer imported fruit for various reasons, including taste, texture, or rarity. Consequently, it is implausible to argue that their personal preference is nullified in the face of the preference of the majority ("בטלה דעתם אצל כל אדם"). While credit is certainly due to those who prefer the fruit of the Land of Israel, this is not obligatory for the masses, and the posekim did not determine the laws of priority for blessings based on this pious preference. Moreover, in the hierarchy of priority in the berachot hanehenin, chaviv takes precedence over nakki. Unfortunately, many prefer a beautiful and fresh fruit from outside the Land of Israel to a less appealing fruit from the Land of Israel.

  1. Preference – but at the bottom of the hierarchy

As we see above, most posekim hold that priority should not be assigned to fruit from the Land of Israel, and they have strong support for their approach. However, these posekim would agree that it is possible to grant priority to fruit from the Land of Israel after the last parameter on the list, size. Therefore, it is advisable to act in this manner to comply with the approach that fruit from the Land of Israel should take priority even to shivat haminim while still following the ruling of the posekim who maintain that these fruits should take priority – but that they would be at the bottom of the hierarchy. That is, only if all of the other factors are equivalent, the fruit from the Land of Israel would be granted priority over the fruit from chutz la'aretz.

  1. Shemitah fruit

Most of the arguments presented above, both in favor and against according priority to fruits from the Land of Israel over their counterparts from abroad, apply to shemitah fruit as well. Therefore, we will not repeat the particulars of these arguments. Nevertheless, the two cases at hand are different in certain respects. We will mention the most blatant difference, regarding shemitah fruit: there are divided opinions on whether consuming shemitah fruit is considered a mitzvah.7 The Chazon Ish and others who held that it is not a mitzvah, might consequently maintain that this fruit is also devoid of sanctity. That is, even if priority would be granted to fruit from the Land of Israel due to its inherent sanctity, shemitah fruit would not take priority over sixth-year fruit, since the former does not have an added sanctity stemming from the shemitah year.

It is also possible to distinguish between the two scenarios conversely: that is, it is possible that a fruit from the Land of Israel would not be granted priority, since it lacks sanctity, but since there is a mitzvah to eat shemitah fruit and this fruit is holy, consequently the shemitah fruit should be prioritized.

Several modern posekim were asked if shemitah fruit should be prioritized. Their answers can be categorized according to the following approaches:
some write that shemitah fruit should not be prioritized since this is not mentioned by earlier halachic authorities.8
At the other end of the spectrum, some maintain that shemitah status supersedes all of the other parameters, even that of shivat haminim not from the shemitah year.9
Others argue that shemitah fruit fits into the category of chaviv if the individual does generally prefer shemitah produce.10
Others, still, write that they would be included in the priority hierarchy only according to those opinions that maintain that their consumption is a mitzvah,11 and if so – it is not clear if the priority is at the bottom of the hierarchy or higher.


  1. The Land of Israel is highly acclaimed for its many qualities, as written in numerous sources. Chazal praise its fruits for their appearance, while Acharonim add that they have spiritual qualities as well. This said, the prevailing halachic approach is that these virtues do not have halachic ramifications—that is, fruit from the Land of Israel are not granted priority for blessings.

  2. Nevertheless, if one has to choose from two fruits that are equivalent in all their aspects—meaning, neither of them is from the shivat haminim, they are both whole (or sliced), similar in terms of one's preference, freshness, and size—it is preferable to first recite the blessing over the fruit from the Land of Israel. By doing so, one does not go against any of the posekim who maintain that such fruit receives priority, while complying with those who prioritize fruits from the Land of Israel. This seems also to be a hiddur in expresses affection for our Holy Land.

  3. For someone who generally prefers fruit from the Holy Land and makes a point to buy this fruit in their regular grocery purchases – some posekim hold that this nevertheless does not deem this fruit as chaviv for such individuals. However, in my humble opinion, it seems that since these individuals show preference for Israeli fruit, the fruit are considered chaviv for them. In this case, such people would prioritize reciting ha'eitz on fruit from the Land of Israel before other fruit that are of higher quality or are larger. In any case, though, such people should not prioritize fruit from the Land of Israel to whole fruit or those from shivat haminim. After all, the halachah places shivat haminim at the top of the hierarchy, above chaviv; whole fruit also take precedence. In any event, one wishes to prioritize fruit from the Land of Israel over whole fruit or shivat haminim can rely on Rav Menachem Mendel Chaim Landau and his school of thought (who hold that fruit from the Land of Israel precede shivat haminim). Furthermore, Rambam (Berachot 8:13) maintained that chaviv precedes all of the other parameters, even shivat haminim. Some Acharonim write that this issue has not been resolved, so one may follow Rambam's approach.12

  4. According to the majority of posekim, chaviv is defined as a fruit one generally prefers, and not to a fruit only preferred at a given time. It follows that someone who doesn't typically prefer fruits from the Land of Israel, but on a particular day, such as Tu BiShevat, feels a heightened affinity for the Land of Israel and wishes to prioritize its fruits, should not give precedence to Land of Israel. Just because these fruits are preferred at that moment, it does not grant them precedence over fruits not from the Land of Israel that he generally prefers – and certainly not over whole fruit or shivat haminim.

  5. Nevertheless, one who cherishes fruits from the Land of Israel may prioritize them over fruits he generally prefers, since he can rely on the Rambam and other significant authorities that hold that chaviv applies to what is preferred to a person at any given time. Furthermore, several important Acharonim assert that there is no definitive halachic resolution on the matter, so one may follow the Rambam if one so chooses. One may add to this the opinion that fruits from the Land of Israel are at the top of the precedence hierarchy. Therefore, one should not dissuade such individuals from giving fruit from the Land of Israel precedence even to whole fruit or shivat haminim.

  6. In the case that someone generally does not prefer fruits from the Land of Israel and also does not prefer them at a particular moment – but still intends to prioritize them over the seven species based on what they heard regarding the halachah. In this case, one should gently instruct them about the relevant laws mentioned above. Nonetheless, one should not protest this practice, since there are different halachic approaches on this matter.

  7. Shemitah fruit: it seems that all of these halachot hold true also for prioritizing shemitah fruit. That is, it is a good practice to prioritize them but only at the bottom of the priority hierarchy (after large). However, if one generally cherishes shemitah fruit, the rule of chaviv can apply. In this case, shemitah fruit would precede fruit of a higher quality and/or large fruit. However, it would not take precedence to a whole fruit or to fruit from shivat haminim. Yet, as we saw before, if he wishes to prioritize this fruit to whole fruit or those from shivat haminim, he has the prerogative to do so and one should not protest this practice.

1 For the original article in Hebrew, including footnotes, see here:

2 See Mishna Berurah OH 211:4; 168:6; 168:15.

3 Ma'aseh Ish 4; Kuntres Peri Ha'aretz (Rabbi Menachem Mendel Chaim Landau of Zawiercie).

4 That is, we do not see that bread made from a dough of 1.66 kg, from which challah was separated, is prioritized for use over bread made from a batch of 1 kg of flour, from which challah was not separated.

5 Rav Chaim Sonnenfeld ; Rav Moshe Sternbuch; Rav Menachem Mendel Chaim Landau of Zawiercie.

6 See the article of Rabbi Yehudah HaLevy Amichay on this topic: Kedushat shevi'it veshivat haminim- teguvah (Shemitah sanctity and the seven species – a response), Emunat Itecha 106, p. 45. Rabbi Amichay maintains that spiritual qualities of fruit with which mitzvot are performed do not fall under the category of chaviv – this applies to shemitah fruit and even to fruit brought as bikkurim.

7 For a summary of opinions on this issue, see Emunat Itecha 71, p. 10.

8 Minchat Asher, Shevi'it Taniena 5775 §56, and apparently also Rabbi Dov Lior, Emunat Itecha 106, p. 48. It seems that this is also the opinion of the Aderet, cited in Har Hamor, Shevi'it (Rabbi Frank Institute 5754), p. 49.

9 Rabbi Avigdor Nebenzahl debated on this matter, notes in Yitzchak Yikrah on Mishnah Beruruah 211 n. 1; Rabbi Eitan Kupietzky, Emunat Itecha 106, pp. 40-44, citing Rabbi Yaakov Ariel that one who does so, has a valid opinion to relay on.

10 Rabbi Baruch Dov Provarsky, Yated Hame'ir 160, Elul 5770 §109 p. 10; Rabbi Srayah Dablitsky, Netivot Hahalachah 43, p. 324.

11 Rabbi Eliyaho Shlesinger, Responsa Sho'alin veDorshin 8:86 b,e and more; this is also the opinon of Rabbi Y. Leiberman, Responsa Mishnat Yosef 13:302 b, who writes that it is not a mitzvah to eat them; others maintain this as well.

12 Shulchan Aruch (OC 211:1) rules that shivat haminim precede chaviv, as opposed to Rambam who writes that chaviv precedes shivat haminim. Taz maintains that one may follow Rambam's opinion, as does Aruch Hashulchan (211:9). The dispute is rooted in the Mishnah in Tractate Berachot 40:2: "If there were many types of food before him, [over which food should he recite a blessing first?] Rabbi Yehuda says: If there is one of the seven species for which Eretz Yisrael was praised among them, he recites the first blessing over it. And the Sages say: He recites a blessing over whichever of them he wants." That is, according to Rabbi Yehudah, shivat haminin are accorded priority, and this is the ruling of Shulchan Aruch. The Sages' opinon, however, is that chaviv is prioritized; Rambam views their opinion as binding.