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Uprooting a fruit tree that yields sour fruit


I have two questions that relate to uprooting fruit trees:

  1. We have a grapefruit tree that yields sour grapefruit, so we don’t fertilize or water the tree. Since we don’t like the fruit, the grapefruits are left on the tree until they fall on their own. The result is that our yard is littered with dozens of rotten, foul-smelling fruit that attract insects. In light of this, would it be permitted to cut down the tree?
  2. In our yard there is an area of 4x4 m that is much higher than the ground level in the rest of the yard, so we can’t use it as part of our yard and we would like to level it. In the middle of this area there is a fruit tree. If we leave the tree in place, we would need to install a cement wall around it to secure the soil underneath that tree. Furthermore, should we leave the tree in place it will make it more difficult to level the ground and make the leveling process much more expensive. Would it then be permissible to uproot the tree to avoid the expenses involved in keeping the tree in place?


Rabbi Yehuda HaLevy Amichay

1. A fruit tree should not be uprooted because its owner does not like its fruit.

2. It is possible to uproot a tree only when what is being put in its place is more expensive than what is there initially. Here, though, the tree can continue to thrive; the owner wants to make a change that is not a vital need, but a luxury. It seems that it is not permitted to uproot the tree.

If it is possible to uproot the tree and replant it in another area, though, it seems that this is permitted if performed by a non-Jew.