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Birkat ha’ilanot on fruit bowl trees


Can I say birkat ha’ilanot on a tree with several types of fruit growing on it?


Rabbi Yoel Friedman

There are citrus trees where tangerines grow on some of the braches while lemons grow on other branches (popular called “fruit bowl” trees). Essentially, these trees were cleft-grafted several times, each time with a different type of citrus. From a halachic perspective, even though all citrus fruits can be considered the same species, in my humble opinion, since many types of fruit grow on the same tree, there is no greater marit ayin than this. The principle of marit ayin, appearance, is a major factor in the laws of kila’im and determines the species. For this reason, this type of grafting is forbidden as is planting and caring for such trees.

Whether it is permissible to say birkat ha’ilanot on such trees is another issue. The poskim were divided about whether it is permissible to say birkat ha’ilanot on orlah trees: some say that one cannot make the blessing on such trees since “ליהנות בהן בני אדם'” does not apply—people still cannot benefit from the trees. Other poskim, however, hold that the blessing is one of general praise about that species.

In the case at hand, according to the first opinion, there would be room to say that it is permissible to say the blessing, since one can certainly benefit from the fruit. Even fruit grown in a prohibited manner is still permissible for benefit. According to the second opinion, where birkat ha’ilanot is considered a blessing of general praise (birkat hashevach), it would be highly inappropriate to make a blessing on a tree on which the prohibition of kila’im was transgressed; this would be considered mocking Heaven, G-d forbid.

For this reason, you should find other fruit trees to bless.