Do It on an Ascent Hike In the Fields and Valleys Surrounding
Chodesh Nissan (this year: Shabbat, April 2) officially ushers in the Spring
season when we may recite Birchat Ha'Ilanot, the blessing upon seeing
fruit trees in bloom.
This special blessing is recited only once a year.
In it we praise G-d's ongoing renewal of creation. The blessing is as follows:
Boruch Ata Ad-o-nay, E-l-hainu, Melech Ha'olam,
sh'lo hasair b'olamo
ubara bo briyot tovot v'eilanot tovot,
leihanot bahem benai adam.
be You, G-d, our G-d, King of the Universe,
that His world is not lacking
and He created in it good creations and good trees
pleasure of mankind."
(Readings for before and after the blessing
are found in some prayer books.)
It is desirable to seek the opportunity
to recite Birchat Ha'Ilanot as soon as possible in the month of Nissan
(unless Rosh Chodesh Nissan falls on Shabbat). It is said only upon seeing a tree
in bloom for the first time. The growth of leaves alone is not sufficient to allow
one to say the blessing; there must be flowers (or buds, according to some authorities).
who saw fruit trees in bloom during Nissan, but forgot or neglected to recite
the blessing, may then recite it only until the time that the fruit of the tree
has (begun to have) grown.
Ideally, Birchat Ha'Ilanot should be
made outside of the city limits, and only on at least two trees, and the more
the better (as in an orchard). There are those who hold that these trees should
be of at least two different species. Also, it is desirable that it be recited
with a minyan of 10 males if possible, so that it can be followed by Kaddish.
According to Kabbalah, this blessing has unique significance. When Jews
make this blessing they are able to redeem souls who have been re-incarnated in
the vegetal realm, making it possible for them to continue or complete their tikun
(soul rectification). It should therefore, be said with intense concentration
and kavanah (intention).
In addition, it is desirable to follow
the blessing with a donation of three coins to tzedakah (charity), corresponding
to the three soul levels of nefesh-ruach-neshama. Also, the Ben Ish
Hai, the famous 20th century halachic authority and kabbalist from Bagdad,
recommends giving 4 coins for the elevation of the soul of one's departed parents,
based on the 4 letters of the Name.
"See (said Yitzchok of Yaacov),
the fragrance of my son is like the fragrance of a field that G-d has blessed."
(Gen. 27:27) It is interpreted that this verse applies to anyone who recites
Birchat Ha'Ilanot with the proper intention.
by Yerachmiel Tilles, for Ascent of Zefat,
Rosh Chodesh Nissan
based on Shulchan HaShalem,'Ohalei Tsaddikim, and Kaf