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T"U B'Shvat

01/16/2014 08:26:53 AM

Jan16

In honor of T”U B’Shvat, I thought it would be appropriate to learn something related to trees and fruit.

In Halachah, there are two kinds of fruit: fruit of the ground and fruit of the tree.  A confusing area of Halachah is how to properly make brachos when both will be consumed, as well as when there are fruits of the same brachah - which one is the brachah said on?

שולחן ערוך אורח חיים סימן ריא סעיף א

היו לפניו מיני פירות הרבה, אם ברכותיהם שוות ויש ביניהם ממין שבעה, מקדים מין ז' אעפ"י שאינו חביב כמו המין האחר; ואם אין ביניהם ממין שבעה, מקדים החביב; ואם אין ברכותיהם שוות, אפילו יש בהן ממין שבעה כגון צנון וזית, איזה מהם שירצה יקדים ואפי' אינו חביב; ויש אומרים שגם בזה צריך להקדים החביב; ונקרא חביב המין שרגיל להיות חביב עליו, אפילו אם עתה חפץ במין השני.

There are before him different types of fruit. If their blessings are the same and there are among them of the seven species, he gives precedence to the seven species even though it is not his favorite compared to the other one. If there is not among them of the seven species, he gives precedence to his favorite. If their blessings are not the same, even if among them is one of the seven species (like for example a radish and an olive), he gives precedence to which ever he wants, even if it is not his favorite. However, there are those that say in that case, as well, he should give precedence to the favorite. “Favorite” refers to the type that is typically his favorite, even if right now he desired the other one.

 

A person sits down to eat fruit, and he plans on eating more than one.  He is going to eat one particular fruit first, so which should he choose to eat first/make the blessing on?  There are two basic scenarios dealt with in the above passage from the Shulchan Aruch:

Sometimes, the fruits will have different blessings, in which case the question is which ברכה takes precedence (HaEitz or HaAdomah).

Sometimes, the fruits all have the same blessing, in which case the question is which fruit takes precedence.

 

Let’s begin with (b).  All the fruits have the same brachah.  Which fruit should he choose to make the brachah on?  There are two general possibilities: (a) Objective status or (b) Subjective status.  Objective status means that the item has a certain status in halachah regardless of his personal preference, and subjective means that the fruit has a status in his own mind (he likes it better for flavor or another reason).

In Shulchan Aruch here, we are told that if among the items before him is one of the seven species of fruit that the Land of Israel is praised regarding - then the brachah should be made on it.  If there is not a member of the seven species there, then one chooses his “favorite” fruit to make the brachah on.  The Mishnah Berurah comments that “favorite” is subjective to the individual, but does NOT mean whatever he happens to be in the mood for.  “Chaviv (favorite)” means the item that holds a special place in the individual's heart, in general, even if it is not what he wants to eat first right now.

If the fruits in front of him have different berachos; some are HaEitz and some are HaAdomah: The Shulchan Aruch has two approaches.  The first approach is that there is no official rule.  One can choose whichever he wants to make the brachah on.  The second approach insists that he must make the brachah on the one that is usually his “favorite”.

What’s the issue?

The dispute here is regarding if “favorite” is a determining factor only for precedence of ITEM or also for precedence of BRACHAH.  If all the items share a brachah, everyone agrees he should make the brachah on the favorite.  The dispute is only when the fruits are different brachos, is he also obligated to make the brachah on the favorite (even if it is not what he wants to eat first)?

You probably noticed that the Shulchan Aruch failed to mention being from the seven species as a factor when the brachos are different.  Apparently, this opinion understands that being from the seven species is only a factor in determining precedence of item, not precedence of brachah.

Halachah Lemaaseh, when one fruit is HaEitz and the other HaAdomah, the Mishnah Berurah says that one should hold of this latter approach and make the brachah on that which is his usual favorite (even if it s HaAdomah).  If he has no particular favorite, then if the HaEitz is one of the seven species he should make the brachah on that one.  If there is no seven species, and none are a favorite, then there is a default rule, HaEitz goes before HaAdomah:

 

שולחן ערוך אורח חיים סימן ריא סעיף ג

ואם הביאו לפניו בפה"ע ובפה"א, איזה מהם שירצה יקדים; וי"א שבורא פרי העץ קודם.

And if they brought before him something whose brachah is HaEitz and something whose brachah is HaAdomah, he should give precedence to whichever he wants; and some say that HaEitz has precedence.

 

So bottom line:

If the fruits are all the same brachah (HaEitz or HaAdomah), he should first determine if one of them is of the seven species with which Eretz Yisroel is blessed.  If none are of the seven, then he should make the brachah on the one that is usually his favorite, even if it is not right now.  If there is no favorite, then he can pick whichever he wants.

If the fruits are a mixture of HaEitz and HaAdomah, then we do not first look to see if one is of the seven species.  First we look to see which one is his usual favorite, and he makes the brachah on that one, even if it means he makes HaAdomah first before HaEitz.  If there is no favorite, then he should look to see if there are any of the seven species.  If there is no favorite and there are none of the seven species, then he should make HaEitz first - but if he really wants the HaAdomah first, he can make the brachah on that.

 

One final note - even if one should make the brachah on the seven species of his usual favorite, he only has to take a small bite, he need not consume the entire thing.  What matters is that the correct brachah was said in the correct order of precedence.

  11 Shevat 5779