The Flowering of Spring

The sign on a local church this week read: “Spring has sprung. Is your faith blossoming?” Faith does blsossom when we see a world regenerating. We hear the birds after a silent winter. We see cherry trees flowering and the weather warming and we feel the relief of

There are four blessings that are only recited once during the Jewish calendar year, and one of them can be done only in the month of Nissan, giving you only a few weeks to get it in. During Nissan, we are obligated to make the blessing over flowering fruit trees when in their presence. This blessing gnerlaly does not apply to fruit trees and generally only to  If you can’t identify the other three for the double jeopardy win, see below.

Countries where the Trees Blossom at other Times
However, in the United States a problem exists, for not always during the month of Nissan do the trees begin to blossom. Therefore, the question becomes whether or not one is permitted to recite the Blessing of the Trees in the month of Iyar. 

The Sefer HaEshkol (authored by Rabbeinu Avraham Av Bet Din, one of the great Rishonim, page 68) writes that one should recite the Blessing of the Trees during the month of Nissan; however, this does not mean specifically Nissan, rather, it means the first time that year that one sees the trees blossom. Similarly, the Ritba (Rabbeinu Yom Tov ben Avraham Elashvili) in his commentary on Tractate Rosh Hashanah (11a) writes: “Not necessarily Nissan, rather, every place based on when the trees blossom there.” Many other Poskim rule likewise. 

Thus, one may recite the Blessing of the Trees based on whenever the blossoming of the trees happens to occur in his current location, for there is no specific requirement for it to be done in the month of Nissan; the only requirement is the spring blossom, which usually occurs during Nissan. 

On Which Trees one May Recite this Blessing
One may only recite this blessing on fruit-bearing trees and it may not be recited on barren trees. Nevertheless, if one mistakenly recited this blessing on a barren tree, he should not repeat it upon seeing a blossoming fruit-bearing tree. 

One may only recite the Blessing of the Trees upon seeing two trees and it is halachically sufficient even if they are from the same species. It is especially praiseworthy to bless upon several kinds of trees. 

Grafted Trees
Regarding trees that are grafted from two different species, for instance a tree grafted from etrogim (citrons) and lemons, some are of the opinion that one should not recite the Blessing of the Trees upon seeing them since their existence is against the will of Hashem; thus, one should not thank and praise Hashem for them. Others argue and say that since this blessing is with regards to the entire creation in general, one may even recite it upon grafted trees. Although if one wishes to recite this blessing on such a tree we shall not protest, nevertheless, it is preferable not to recite the blessing on such a tree due to the famous rule, “When in doubt regarding a blessing, do not bless.” 

However, there is much room for leniency in this matter regarding trees which are not so clearly forbidden to graft, such as citrus trees including citron, lemon, “Chushchash” (wild oranges), and grapefruits, for according to Maran Harav Ovadia Yosef Shlit”a (see Responsa Yabia Omer, Volume 5, Chapter 19 and Halichot Olam, Volume 2, page 200), one may tell a non-Jew to graft such trees with one another. Based on this, the existence of such trees is certainly not against Hashem’s will and the Blessing of the Trees may be recited on them just as it is customary to recite the “Shehecheyanu” blessing on such fruits, as we have explained in another Halacha.