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Halachot of Berachot  

Fruits and Vegetables

General Rule: The halachaic definition of a tree is a plant which survives and produces fruit year after year.  Thus, if a plant has this characteristic then it would be considered a tree and the proper bracha for its fruits would be Ha’etz.

If the plant doesn’t have this characteristic – then its fruits should receive a Ha’adoma.

For example: Blueberries come from a bush which survives and continues to produce fruit year after year – and therefore is Ha’etz despite not actually appearing like a classical tree. On the other hand, Bananas which come from large 30 foot plants are NOT considered "trees," since it only gives off its fruit once and then needs to regenerate. The way banana "plants" work is that the over-ground trunk dies each year and the roots send up a new trunk which gives off new fruits – therefore bananas are Ha’adoma.

The Exception: If the plant grows within 3 tefachim (9 inches) of the ground, then even if they are technically trees and deserve Ha’etz – we still only treat them as bushes and thus give them only Ha’adoma.

Examples: Cranberries and wild blueberries are Ha’adoma since their bushes are very short. Common Blueberries found in the US are Ha’etz since they come from large plants.

Questionable Fruits:  Papaya and Raspberries are difficult to classify according to the halachaic distinctions between Ha’etz and Ha’adoma, and therefore receive a Ha’adoma out of uncertainty. (Be’deEved, Ha’etz would also work for these safek cases)

Mistakes: Be'deEved one can say Ha’adoma on a Ha’etz, but not a Ha’etz on a Ha’adoma. The reason is that we require the bracha to be true. Even though the proper bracha on Apples is Ha’etz, even if I said an Ha’adoma I would be Yotzei. Although I could have been more precise, Apples do come from the ground and thus my bracha was technically true. However, the reverse would not be true. For Example, If I say Ha’etz on a carrot – that is simply not true, because Carrot do not come from trees.


 

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