Birkas ha-Ilanos: The Blessing over Trees in Bloom
Rosh Chodesh Nissan marks the beginning of the season for Birkas
ha-Ilanos—the blessing we recite upon seeing fruit trees in bloom. Since
this blessing, which extols Hashem’s ongoing renewal of creation, is
recited only once a year, its halachos are difficult to remember. Women,
too, may recite this blessing since it is not considered a “time-related
mitzvah” from which women are exempt.
Question: When is Birkas ha-Ilanos recited?
Discussion: The l'chatchilah, preferred time to recite this blessing is
immediately upon seeing a fruit tree in bloom during the month of Nissan.
Most poskim agree that the halachah mentions Nissan since generally, that is
the month in which trees begin to bloom. Accordingly, in an area where
they start blooming in Adar, or where they do not bloom until Iyar or
Sivan, the blessing should be recited in those months. In the
countries where fruit trees blossom in Tishrei or Cheshvan, the blessing
should be said at that time.
If a tree bloomed in Nissan, but one did not see it until later, he may
recite the blessing the first time he sees the tree as long as the fruit of
the tree has not yet ripened. Once the fruit has ripened, the blessing may
no longer be said.
One who saw the trees in bloom during Nissan, but forgot or neglected to
recite the blessing, may recite the blessing at a later date but only until
the time that the fruit of the tree has begun to grow.
The blessing is said upon seeing the actual blooming (flowering) of the
tree. The growth of leaves alone is not sufficient to allow one to recite
Some poskim hold that this blessing should not be said on Shabbos and
Yom Tov, since we are concerned that it may lead to shaking or breaking a
branch off the tree. All other poskim who do not mention this concern,
apparently do not forbid reciting this blessing on Shabbos and Yom Tov.
It is customary, though, to recite the blessing only during the week,
unless the last day of Nissan falls on Shabbos. The blessing may be
said at night.
Question: Which trees require Birkas ha-Ilanos?
Discussion: Birkas ha-Ilanos is said only on fruit-bearing trees. If
one mistakenly said the blessing on a barren tree, he need not repeat the
blessing on a fruit-bearing tree.
The poskim debate whether one is allowed to recite the blessing on a tree
which has been grafted from two species, since the halachah does not permit
such grafting. It is p referable not to make the blessing on such a
Some acharonim prohibit the recitation of the blessing on an orlah
tree. A tree is considered orlah for the first three years after it is
planted. Many other poskim, however, permit reciting the blessing on an
During the year of shemittah in Eretz Yisrael, it is permitted to recite
the blessing even on a tree which—in violation of the halachah—has been
The text of the blessing, as quoted in all of the early sources, is as
follows:ברוך אתה ד' אלקינו להנות בהם בני אדם בריות טובות ואילנות טובים
מלך העולם שלא חסר בעולמו כלום וברא בו
In several Siddurim the word davar appears instead of the word klum.
But since all of the early sources indicate that the original text had the
word klum, not the word davar, and the reason for the change is
unsubstantiated, it is, therefore, proper to follow the early sources and
recite the word klum and not the word davar.
Birkas ha-Ilanos—hiddur mitzvah
In addition to the basic halachos mentioned earlier, there are several
hiddurim and stringencies mentioned in the poskim concerning this
once-a-year mitzvah. According to the kabbalah, especially, this blessing
has special significance. Among the hiddurim are:
- The blessing should be recited on two or more trees. No blessing is
said on a single tree. Although the two trees do not have to be from
two different species, several poskim mention that the more trees the
better. Indeed, l'chatchilah the blessing should be said on trees in an
orchard that is planted outside the city limits.
- The blessing should be recited in the presence of a minyan followed by
Kaddish. Before the blessing is recited, V'yehi noam followed by Hallelukah
hallelu Keil min ha-shamayim is said.
- The blessing should be recited at the earliest possible time, which is
on Rosh Chodesh Nissan, unless it falls on Shabbos or it is raining.
1. Shitah Mekubetzes, Berachos 43b.
2. O.C. 226:1.
3. Har Tzvi, O.C. 118.
4. Mishnah Berurah 226:1, quoting acharonim.
5. Be'er Heitev, O.C. 226:1.
6. Aruch ha-Shulchan 226:1.
7. Note that there are several poskim who hold that according to kabbalah,
this blessing should be recited only during Nissan. See Sedei Chemed
(Berachos 2:1) and Kaf ha-Chayim 126:1 who rule that one should not recite
this blessing before or after Nissan.
8. Har Tzvi, O.C. 118; Minchas Yitzchak 10:16.
9. Mishnah Berurah 226:4.
10. Mishnah Berurah 226:5; Minchas Shelomo 1:73-8. L'chatchilah, however,
one should be particular to recite the blessing the first time he sees the
blossoming, since several poskim maintain that the blessing may not be said
if one failed to say it the first time; see Machatzis ha-Shekel 226; Kitzur
Shulchan Aruch 60:1; Sha’ar ha-Tziyun 226:3 and Ketzos ha-Shulchan (Badei
ha-Shulchan 46:18). For this reason it is important to know the text of the
blessing by heart so that the blessing can be said as soon as blossoms are seen.
11. Mishnah Berurah 226:2.
12. Kaf ha-Chayim 226:4 quoting Moed Kol Chai. Kaf ha-Chayim also rules
that according to kabbalah, this blessing may not be said on Shabbos and Yom
13. Indeed, it is clearly permissible to smell a hadas which is attached
to a tree on Shabbos since we are not concerned that the branch will be
broken off, O.C. 336:10.
14. Teshuvos Lev Chayim 2:44. See Nefesh David (Aderet), pg. 138, who
insisted on reciting this blessing only on Shabbos.
15. Mi-Beis Levi, Nissan 5756.
16. Yechaveh Da’as 1:2.
17. Tzitz Eliezer 12:20-6.
18. Mishnah Berurah 226:2.
19. Shevet ha-Levi 6:53.
20. Both views are brought in Kaf ha-Chayim 225:26 and 226:11.
21. Ben Ish Chai (Re'eh 11); Sedei Chemed (Berachos 2:7); Minchas Yitzchak
3:25-3; Yabia Omer 5:20.
22. Rav Akiva Eiger (Gilyon O.C. 226); Divrei Malkiel 3:2. If one is in
doubt whether the tree is orlah, a blessing may be said according to all views.
23. Dovev Meishorim 3:5; Chelkas Yaakov 2:27.
24. Halichos Shelomo 3:2-4; Mi-Beis Levi, Nissan 5756.
25. See Berachos 43b, Rambam (Berachos 10:13); Rokei'ach, pg. 235; Ohr
Zarua 1:179; Avudraham (Berachos); Tur and Shulchan Aruch, O.C. 226; Siddur
Rav Yaakov Emden; Chayei Adam 63:2; Siddur Ba'al ha-Tanya; Kitzur Shulchan
Aruch 60:1; Aruch ha-Shulchan 226:1
26. The text in some of the early sources (including Rambam and Shulchan
Aruch) is 'tovos.' [According to dikduk, tovim is the proper form, since
ilan is lashon zachar, as in the Mishnah (Avos 3:7): ilan zeh.]
27. Siddur ha-Gra; Minchas Yerushalayim; ArtScroll. The source may be
Sefer ha-Eshkol, pg. 68.
28. Minchas Yitzchak 10:16; mi-Beis Levi (Nissan 5756).
29. Chida (Moreh b'Etzba 198); Halichos Shelomo 3:2, Orchos Halachah 10.
Although there are poskim who hold that two trees are required even
according to the basic halachah and no blessing is recited when only one
tree is seen, see Da’as Torah 226:1 and Chazon Ovadyah, pg. 9-10, most
poskim do not mention this requirement. See also Ketzos ha-Shulchan (Badei
ha-Shulchan 46:18) that l'chatchilah two trees are required for the blessing.
30. Kaf ha-Chayim 226:2.
31. Teshuvos Halachos Ketanos 2:28.
32. Teshuvos Lev Chayim 45 quoted in Kaf ha-Chayim 226:3 and in Chazon
Ovadyah, pg. 8.
33. See entire procedure in Kaf ha-Chayim 226:7-8.
34. Mi-Beis Levi (Nissan 5756).
Weekly-Halacha, Text Copyright © 2012 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and Torah.org.
Rabbi Neustadt is the Yoshev Rosh of the Vaad Harabbonim of Detroit and the Av Beis Din of the Beis Din Tzedek of Detroit. He could be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org