Did you know?
By Rabbi Fabian Werbin
We all are looking forward to spring. We had a lot of snow during this winter, and I think we all agree that we are in desperate need of warm weather.
The Jewish tradition has a way to express our gratitude to Hashem for the renewal of nature. There’s a blessing that we say only once a year that shows how important the world where we live is for us. Simultaneously, we thank Hashem for giving us the opportunity to enjoy his creation. This blessing is called Birkat Ha’ilanot, the Blessing on seeing Blossoming Fruit Trees.
Birkat Ha’ilanot is accordingly recited on seeing this wondrous renewal in nature, as the fruit trees blossom, in anticipation of our benefit from these trees. At the same time, we are acknowledging the deeper aspects of nature’s renewal, and the connection of man with the botanic kingdom.
The Talmud states, (Bavli,Berakhot,33,2): “Said Rav Yehuda: A person who goes out during the days of [the month of] Nisan and sees the blossom of [fruit] trees recites [the following blessing]: “Blessed are You Hashem, our G-d, King of the universe, who did not allow anything to lack in His world and [who] created within it good creatures and good trees to give pleasure to mankind through them.”” Therefore we follow Rav Yehuda’s idea and we say the blessing every year.
Here are some rules for this nice custom:
1) Birkat Ha’ilanot should be recited once a year during the month of Nisan, but if it is not possible then it may be recited in the month of Iyar. However, the sooner it is done, from Rosh Chodesh Nisan, the better.
2) The Berakha should be recited on seeing fruit trees in blossom. It is sufficient to say it on seeing at least two trees of the same kind (e.g. two apple trees). However, if there are trees of different kinds (say an apple tree and a plum tree), this is glorifying the Mitzvah.
3) It is permissible to recite the Berakha during Shabbat and Yom Tov.
And here’s is the transliteration of the blessing:
Boruch A-toh Ado-noi E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ho-olom She-lo Chi-seir Be-o-lo-mo Ke-lum U-va-rah Vo Be-ri-yos To-vos Ve-i-lo-nos To-vos Le-ha-nos ba-hem Be-nei A-dam.
This year after the beginning of the month of Nissan, get out to the woods or nearby gardens in your neighborhood, spot at least two fruit trees in blossom, and say the blessing.