Contributed by: R. EricMizrahi
Hilkhot Birkat Hailanot
1. When one sees a fruit tree blossoming in the month of Nissan, he says the following blessing:
2. The blessing is to be said only once a year. Preferably, one should wait until Nisan to say the blessing. However, bediavad one fulfills the obligation is the blessing is said during Adar or Iyar. In various places around the world, the saying of this blessing is dependent on when trees blossom. For example, in South America, the blessing is said in Tishri. If possible it is better to say the blessing on the first day of Nisan. It is customary to gather a minyan of at least ten men, to say the blessing and Qaddish afterwards. If a minyan cannot be found, it is preferable to say it alone, rather than to wait for a later date to recite the blessing with a minyan. It is our custom in Ahaba to make this blessing together as a qahal during Hol Hamoed Pesah.
3. The blessing is only said on fruit bearing trees, not אילנות סרק (trees planted for beauty, not fruit-bearing). In addition, it must be said on at least two trees. Different species are preferred, but two trees of the same type are permitted to be used for this blessing.
4. The blessing is only said on trees in the first stages of blossoming. It may not be said on trees whose fruits have already begun to grow, and the tree contains no more buds. (even if fruit has not started to grow, but all the buds have fallen out, one may not recite the blessing over this tree).
5. It is permitted to say Birkat Hailanot on Shabbat, although it is preferable to say it on a weekday. However, if it is the last Shabbat of Nisan, then one should say the blessing on Shabbat and not take a chance forgetting to recite the beracha on the final days of the month. In such a case, be careful not to carry a siddour where there is no proper erub. This is the very reason why it is preferable to not make this blessing on Shabbat- for the Rabbis fear people might forget Shabbat and carry their siddour out into the fields.
6. Since this is not a time-bound obligation, women are obligated to say the blessing for the trees. (for the reason why we dont make this blessing during other times is not based on the actual missvah, but rather the reality that the trees are not blooming all year).
7. It is preferable that the blessing be said on trees that are planted in gardens and orchards outside the city limits. If this is difficult, it is permitted to recite the blessing on trees within the city. Being that we are all city-dwellers, this has become our custom.
8. Some authorities say the blessing should not be said on trees that are crossbred from different species, since planting such trees is against the will of God. Others permit it, since the blessing expresses our gratitude to God for the entire creation [not just one particular tree]. Ideally, the blessing should not be said over such trees, for when there is a doubt concerning blessings, we are lenient [with respect to saying the blessing]. One who wishes to say a blessing in this case, can rely on those authorities that do permit it. Certainly, if there is a doubt whether a tree is a crossbred or not, the blessing may be said.
9. It is permitted to say the blessing on trees that are under the prohibition of Orlah (within the first three years of having been planted, when we are prohibited from eating or enjoying the fruit).
10. One may recite Birkat Hailanot at night, as long as one has enough light to discern the various buds.
11. One who is blind in both eyes does not say the blessing. It is proper for him to hear it from someone else, while having fulfilled the obligation through the other person.