The Appropriate Berachah for Papaya and Raspberries - Part Two by Rabbi Chaim Jachter
Last week we began our discussion regarding the appropriate Berachah for papayas. We cited a long list of Poskim who rule that the Berachah for papayas should be Borei Pri HaAdamah, despite the fact that a popular guide to Berachot states that its Berachah is Borei Pri HaEitz. We began to present the reasons for why the Teshuvot Rav Pe’alim, the first major Halachic authority to address this question, ruled that the proper Berachah is Borei Pri HaAdamah. This week, we shall conclude our discussion of this issue and also discuss the proper Berachah for raspberries.
Other Arguments of the Rav Pe’alim
In addition to the argument we cited last week, the Rav Pe’alim cites the Teshuvot Halachot Ketanot (83), who posits that the fact that the eggplant stem is hollow, characteristic of vegetables and not of fruit trees, is a reason why the Berachah for eggplant is HaAdamah. The Rav Pe’alim notes that the papaya tree is also hollow, providing another reason to say that the Berachah for papayas should be HaAdamah. Thus, the Rav Pe’alim concludes that the correct Berachah for papayas is HaAdamah. The Kaf HaChaim, Rav Ovadia Yosef, Rav Mordechai Eliyahu, Mekor HaBerachah, VeTein Berachah, and Pitchei Halacha all concur with the Teshuvot Rav Pe’alim’s decision.
The Rav Pe’alim points out that even if there remains some doubt whether HaAdamah or HaEitz is the proper Berachah for papaya, HaAdamah should be recited, since Bedieved (post facto) one has fulfilled his obligation to recite a Berachah even if he uttered HaAdamah on a food item that one should have said HaEitz on (see Rama Orach Chaim 202:18). Rav Shternbuch (Teshuvot Vehanhagot) also arrives at the conclusion that Borei Pri HaAdamah should be recited for this reason. Finally, this author was informed that the common practice among observant Jews in Mexico (where papayas are quite popular) is to recite Borei Pri HaAdamah.
We should note that it should not surprise us to find the Radbaz (mentioned last week) and the Halachot Ketanot introducing a new criterion regarding the Berachot of Borei Pri HaEitz and Borei Pri HaAdamah that does not have an explicit source in the Gemara. There is a precedent from the Rosh (cited last week) of adding a second criterion to the one that appears in the Gemara.
Rav Mordechai Eliyahu’s Arguments
Rav Mordechai Eliyahu (the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel during the 1980’s) presents two additional arguments for why the Berachah on papaya should be HaAdamah (Techumin 7:93). First, he points out that unlike conventional fruit trees, papaya trees produce fruit from the stem rather than the branches. Second, he argues that the Gemara requires that the same branch produce fruit yearly to warrant a Berachah of HaAdamah, which is not the case with papayas. The same “level of the tree” will not produce fruit for more than one year. Rav Shternbuch advances similar arguments (though he expresses considerable doubt about the issue). However, the Rav Pe’alim and Maharsham (1:196) reject this approach. They assert that as long as the tree remains intact through the winter and the tree produces fruit the subsequent year, HaEitz is recited on the tree’s fruit, despite the fact that a particular section of a tree does not produce fruit the next season.
Nevertheless, because of the other reasons that we have outlined, virtually all of the Poskim who have addressed this issue conclude that HaAdamah is the correct Berachah for papayas. However, it is possible to argue that Borei Pri HaEitz suffices Bedieved (post facto) for papayas. This stems from the approach of the Chazon Ish (Orla 12:3) regarding this issue. He does not fully accept the explanations of the Radbaz and Halachot Ketanot for why eggplant is not regarded as a fruit, due to the absence of a Talmudic source for their criteria. He believes, though, that Borei Pri HaAdamah is recited on the fruit of a tree whose “seed produces fruit within a year and does not last more than three years.” The Chazon Ish reasons, “It is counterintuitive to say that there is a tree whose fruits are always forbidden to consume.” Indeed, a simple reading of Vayikra 19:23-25 seems to support this assertion (see, however, Teshuvot Tzitz Eliezer 2:15 who criticizes this approach).
Recall from last week’s essay that under favorable conditions, papayas produce fruit for five years or more. Accordingly, it appears that papayas do not satisfy the Chazon Ish’s criteria for a vegetable. Additionally, Rav Shternbuch notes that the papaya tree is less analogous to a vegetable for several other reasons, such as that it is sturdier than an eggplant. Rav Shternbuch even concludes, based on these arguments and the Chazon Ish, that one should refrain from eating papayas grown in Eretz Yisrael due to concern that they might be Orla (though in Chutz Laaretz he rules leniently because Safeik Orla is permitted in Chutz Laaretz; see Orla 3:9 and Teshuvot Yabia Omer 6 Y.D. 24). Dayan Weisz (Teshuvot Minchat Yitzchak 9:108) also seems inclined to regard papayas as Safeik Orla. Accordingly, Rav Hershel Schachter told me that Borei Pri HaEitz suffices Bedieved for papayas.
We should clarify that I did not ask Rav Schachter regarding the permissibility of eating papayas grown in Eretz Yisrael. Rav Ovadia Yosef (Teshuvot Yechave Daat 4:52) and Rav Mordechai Eliyahu (Techumin 7:88-93) permit papayas grown in Eretz Yisrael and do not require that they be rabbinically certified as free from concern for Orla. Rav Shternbuch, on the other hand, would permit papayas grown in Eretz Yisrael only if they are certified as being free of concern for Orla.
One of the issues that we raised regarding papayas is the focus of the debate regarding the proper Berachah for raspberries. The World Book Encyclopedia (16:14) describes the growth of a raspberry tree exactly as the Teshuvot Maharsham (1:196) does: “The stems and branches of the raspberry bush bear fruit only once, in their second year. Growers then cut off the branches at the ground, but allow new stems that have grown from the roots to remain. These bear fruit the next year.”
The fact that the same branch does not produce fruit the next season prompted the Maharsham to suggest that the Berachah should be HaAdamah. Similarly, the Aruch Hashulchan (203:5) cites an opinion that HaAdamah is the proper Berachah for raspberries. Nevertheless, both of these authorities note that common practice is to recite HaEitz on raspberries. They reason that since the tree lasts from year to year, HaEitz is recited (see, however, Teshuvot Igrot Moshe O.C.1:86), even though a particular branch does not produce fruit for more than one year.
We should note that the Ritva (Sukkah 35a s.v. V’ha) and the Shitah Mekubetzet (Berachot 40a s.v. Man) clearly support the rulings of the Aruch Hashulchan and Maharsham. The Chazon Ish (Orla 12:3 paragraph beginning with the word VeNireh) and the aforementioned responsum from the Rav Pe’alim also seem to support this assertion. However, it would appear from Rav Mordechai Eliyahu’s aforementioned approach to papayas that he does not accept this view.
However, some great authorities (Teshuvot Divrei Malkiel 5:143 and Ketzot Hashulchan 49:6 based on Taz 204:8) rule that HaAdamah is the appropriate Berachah for raspberries. In addition, Rabbi Bodner (VeTein Berachah 2:395) reports that both Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and Rav Yosef Shalom Eliashiv rule that the proper Berachah for raspberries should be HaAdamah. Rabbi Forst (in the second edition of his Pitchei Halacha) also writes that it is preferable to recite HaAdamah on raspberries.
I consulted with a number of Halachic authorities from Chassidic, Lithuanian, and Modern Orthodox groups, all of whom noted that it is proper to follow the established practice and the major authorities cited in last week’s essay to recite HaEitz on raspberries. Indeed, it seems that the accepted procedure is to follow the common practice in regard to the laws of Berachot (see, for example, the discussion of why the practice is to recite Shehakol on chocolate rather than HaEitz, found in Mekor HaBerachah 52-58).
The overwhelming majority of rabbinic authorities rule that HaAdamah should be recited on papayas. The overwhelming majority of the classic Halachic authorities rule that HaEitz should be recited on raspberries, and this seems to be the common practice.
We should note that we have not discussed the presence of insects in raspberries and its Halachic ramifications. One should consult his Rav for guidance regarding this matter.
Finally, I wish to note that I was motivated in part to write on this essay in part to honor the memory of my mother Mrs. Shirley (Chaya Tzipporah) Jachter, who loved to serve raspberries in papayas as a special treat to her family and guests on Yom Tov. May this essay serve LeIlui Nishmatah.