Do It on an Ascent Hike In the Fields and Valleys Surrounding Zefat!
Chodesh Nissan (this year: Shabbat, March 24) 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 kloom,
ubara bo briyot tovot v'eilanot tovot,
leihanot bahem benai adam.
"Blessed be You, G-d, our G-d, King of the Universe,
that His world is not lacking anything,
and He created in it good creations and good trees
for the pleasure of mankind."
(Readings for before and after the blessing are found in some prayer
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
One 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 special 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.
(produced by Yerachmiel Tilles, for Ascent
Rosh Chodesh Nissan 5760, 5771
based on Shulchan HaShalem,'Ohalei Tsaddikim, and Kaf HaHayim)