The Correct Beracha for Papaya and Raspberries by Rabbi Howard Jachter

1999/5759

Introduction1

                  A popular Berachot guide lists the Beracha for papaya as Borei Pri Haetz.  However, virtually all the major authorities who have written on this subject have ruled that the proper Beracha for papaya is Borei Pri Haadama.2  In this essay, we seek to demonstrate that these authorities' ruling should be followed.  We will use the responsum from Teshuvot Rav Pealim for direction regarding this issue.  In addition, we will discuss the correct Beracha for raspberries.  Four of the most important halachic authorities rule that Haetz is the correct Beracha for raspberries (Chayei Adam 51:9, Mishna Berura 203:1, Aruch Hashulchan 203:5, Teshuvot Maharsham 1:196).  Moreover, the Aruch Hashulchan and the Maharsham note that the accepted practice is to recite Haetz on raspberries.  This practice persists to this day.  However, Rav Pinchas Bodner (V'Ten Berachah 2:395) and Rav Binyamin Forst (in the second edition of his Pitchei Halacha) write that it is best to recite Haadama on raspberries.  We will endeavor in this essay to defend the common practice to recite Haetz on raspberries.

 

Description of the Growth of the Papaya Tree

                  The papaya is a hollow tree, which can grow to the height of twenty feet.  If one plants a papaya seed, fruit will be produced within one year.  After the third year of growth, the papaya trees' fruits decrease in quality and the tree is no longer economically worthwhile to maintain.  The Encyclopaedia Britannica (17:277) notes that "under favorable conditions the life of a [papaya] plant may be five years or more."  The papaya tree consists of a stem without branches, has antennae-like leaves emerging from its stem, and fruit emerging from the stem.  After the fruit is removed from the stem, fruit will no longer grow from that section of the tree.  The stem will grow considerably higher and produce fruit from the newly grown area in the second year.  The same occurs in the third year.

 

First Thought of the Teshuvot Rav Pealim

                  Teshuvot Rav Pealim (2:30) was the first major halachic authority to address the question of which Beracha to recite on papaya.  At first, he thought that the proper Beracha for papaya should be Haetz.  This followed from the following Talmudic passage and its commentaries.  The Talmud (Berachot 40a) states: "Whence do we recite Borei Pri Haetz?  In case when one if removes fruit, the Gavza (Rashi: tree branch) remains and subsequently produces fruit.  However, in case when the fruit is removed there no longer remains a branch which produces fruit, we do not recite Borei Pri Haetz, instead Borei Pri Haadama is recited."

                  The Rosh (Berachot 6:23) explains that the Gemara teaches that "anything which produces fruit yearly is defined as a tree, and anything that requires yearly replanting is considered a fruit of the land (on which Haadama is recited)."  The Rosh adds an additional definition from the Tosefta in the third chapter of Kilayim:

Whatever produces leaves [which bears fruit] from its roots requires a Borei Pri Haadama and whatever produces leaves from its branches which produces fruit is considered a tree on which a Borei Pri Haetz is recited.

                  We see that the Rosh believes that the Gemara's distinction between perennials and annuals is not the sole criterion in determining whether Haetz or Haadama is recited. Other Rishonim, however, disagree with this assumption of the Rosh.  For example, the Mordechai (Berachot 131) cites the Maharam of Rothenberg and Rabbeinu Tam who believe that one should recite Haetz on strawberries since strawberries are perennials.  Nevertheless, the Mordechai cites opinions which agree with the Rosh.  These authorities believe that Haadama is the appropriate Beracha for strawberries, since its leaves emerge from the roots of the plant rather than from branches.

                  The Tur (Orach Chaim 203) cites both opinions regarding the correct Beracha for strawberries.  The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 203:2 and 3) rules in accordance with the Rosh.  The Rama explains that "since the tree collapses in the winter and only subsequently regrows from its roots, the proper Beracha is Borei Pri Haadama."  The same Halacha applies to bananas3 and pineapples, and thus their Beracha is Haadama.4

                  Based on the two criteria outlined by the Rosh, the Beracha on papaya should be Haetz.  The papaya does not have to be replanted each year and its stem remains intact throughout the winter.  Thus, the Rav Pealim writes that at first glance it would appear that Haetz should be recited on papaya.  The Rav Pealim also notes that the fact that the papaya fruit in the second year grows from a newly grown section of the tree is irrelevant, and he understands the aforementioned Gemara's requirement that "the branch remains and later produces fruit" as meaning that if the tree remains through the winter and continues to produce fruit, the correct Beracha is Haetz.  However, the Gemara does not require that the same branch produce fruit the next season in order for the Beracha to be Haetz.5

 

Conclusion of the Teshuvot Rav Pealim - The Eggplant Precedent

                  The Rav Pealim, however, concludes that Haadama is the correct Beracha for papaya.  His conclusion is, for the most part, based on the precedent to recite Haadama on eggplant.  He presents sources indicating that there is an old tradition to recite Haadama on eggplant.

                  The first source is the Teshuvot Radvaz (1:296 and 3:531), who discuses the permissibility of eating eggplant.  He describes that eggplant grows within a year of planting and continues to produce fruit only for the next two years.6  Accordingly, all eggplants are from the first three years of growth.  Thus, it would seem that eggplants should be forbidden to be consumed, since they appear to be considered Orlah.7  Indeed, an important authority, the Kaftor Veferach (chapter 56), rules that it is forbidden to eat eggplant for this reason.  Nevertheless, the Radvaz notes that the practice among Jews living in the land of Israel is to eat eggplant.  Those who ate eggplant include very prominent figures such as Rav Yosef Karo, The Ari, z"l, Rav Chaim Vital, and Rav Moshe Alshich (see Birkei Yosef to Yoreh Deah 294).  The Radvaz defends this practice by stating that any plant that produces fruit within a year of planting is considered a vegetable and not a fruit.8  Only vegetables grow within a year of planting, and thus eggplant must be a vegetable and not subject to the restrictions of Orlah.  Accordingly, the Beracha on eggplant is Borei Pri Haadama.  The Rav Pealim reasons that the halacha regarding papayas should be the same as that regarding eggplants, since papaya trees also bear fruit within a year of planting its seed.  Moreover, the Rav Pealim cites that the Teshuvot Halachot Ketanot (83) offers another reason why the Beracha for eggplant is Haadama.  Namely, the fact that the eggplant stem is hollow is characteristic of vegetables and not of fruit trees.  The Rav Pealim notes that the papaya tree is also hollow, thus providing another reason why the Beracha for papaya should be Haadama.  Thus, the Rav Pealim concludes that the correct Beracha for papaya is Haadama.  The Kaf Hachaim, Rav Ovadia Yosef, Rav Mordechai Eliyahu, Mekor Habracha, V'Ten Beracha, and Pitchei Halacha all concur with Rav Pealim's decision.  The Rav Pealim points out that even if there remains some doubt whether Haadama or Haetz is the proper Beracha for papaya, Haadama should be recited.  This is because in any case of doubt whether Haadama or Haetz is the required Beracha, Haadama should be recited since ______ (post facto) one has fulfilled his obligation to recite a Beracha even if he uttered Haadama on a food item that one should have said Haetz on (see Rama Orach Chaim 202:18).

                  Finally, this author was informed that common practice among observant Jews in Mexico is to recite Haadama on papaya (papaya is a popular fruit in Mexico).

 

Rav Mordechai Eliyahu's Arguments

                  Rav Mordechai Eliyahu (former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel) presents two additional arguments why the Beracha for papaya should be Haadama (Techumin 7:93).  First, he points out that unlike conventional fruit trees, papaya trees produce fruit from its stem and not its branches.  Second, he points out that the Gemara requires that the same branch produce fruit yearly, which is not the case with papaya.  The same "level of the tree" will not produce fruit for more than one year.  However, the Rav Pealim and Maharsham (1:196) reject this approach.  As long as the tree remains intact through the winter and the tree produces fruit the subsequent year, Haetz 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 reasons that we have outlined, virtually all of the Poskim who have addressed this issue, conclude that Haadama is the correct Beracha for papaya.9

 

Raspberries

                  The last issue we raised regarding papaya is the focus of the debate regarding the proper bracha 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 Beracha should be Haadama.  Similarly, the Aruch Hashulchan (203:5) cites an opinion that Haadama is the proper Beracha for raspberries.  Nevertheless, both of these authorities note that common practice is to recite Haetz on raspberries.  They explain that since the tree lasts from year to year, Haetz is recited10, even though a particular branch does not produce fruit for more than one year.11

                  However, some great authorities (Teshuvot Divrei Malkiel 5:143 and Ketzot Hashulchan 49:6 based on Taz 204:8) rule that Haadama is the appropriate Beracha for raspberries.  In addition, Rabbi Bodner (V'Ten Beracha 2:395) cites reports that both Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and Rav Yosef Shalom Eliashiv rule that the proper Beracha for raspberries should be Haadama.  Rabbi Forst (in the second edition of his Pitchei Halacha) also writes that it is preferable to recite Haadama on raspberries.

                  This author consulted with a wide variety of halachic authorities from Chassidic, Lithuanian, and Modern Orthodox groups who all noted that it is proper to follow the established practice to recite Haetz on raspberries.  Indeed, it seems that the accepted procedure is to follow the common practice in regard to the laws of Berachot, even if pure halachic reasoning appears to indicate otherwise (see, for example, the discussion of why the practice is to recite Shehakol on chocolate rather than Haetz, Mekor Habracha 52-58).

 

Conclusion

                  The overwhelming majority of rabbinic authorities rule that Haadama should be recited on papaya.  The overwhelming majority of the classic halachic authorities opinion and common practice is to recite Haetz on raspberries.

 

Notes:

1. This article is written Li'ilui Nishmat my beloved mother, Mrs. Shirley Jachter, A"H, who passed away on 17 Av, 5757.  My mother loved to serve papaya and raspberries to her family and guests on Shabbat and Yom Tov.

2. Rav Yosef Chaim, Teshuvot Rav Pealim II:30;  Rav Yaakov Chaim Sofer, Kaf Hachaim Ohr Hachaim 203:13;  Rav Ovadia Yosef, Teshuvot Yechave Daat 4:52;  Rav Mordechai Eliyahu, Techumin 7:88-93;  Dayan Gavriel Krausse, Mekor Habracha p. 30;  and Rav Binyamin Forst, Pitchei Halacha p. 375.

3. Rav Pinchas Teitz instituted a practice in his family to use bananas for Karpas at the Pesach Seder to emphasize to his community that the proper Beracha for bananas is Haadamah.

4. The Mishna Berura (203:3) writes that if one mistakenly recited Haetz on strawberries, he should eat only a tiny bit of the strawberry so that the Beracha should not have been uttered in vain.  The Kaf Hachaim  (203:7), however, notes that if one recited Haetz on strawberries he may eat them without restriction.  He reasons that ______ (post facto) one fulfilled his requirement to recite a Beracha because some Rishonim believe that Haetz is the correct Beracha for strawberries.

5. This intuitively appears to be correct since fruit does not grow in the subsequent season precisely on the spot in which it grew before hand.  This point is extremely relevant to our later discussion regarding the correct Beracha for raspberries.

6. According to the information gathered by this author, this is true for eggplants planted in tropical climates (such as Israel and Egypt, which is what the Radvaz is discussing).  However, eggplants in non-tropical climates such as New York produce only one season of fruit.

7. Generally speaking, the question of whether Orlah applies to the particular plant is linked to the issue of whether its Beracha is Haetz or Haadama.  See Berachot 36a and Rav Mordechai Eliyahu's review of this issue in Techumin 7:89-90.

8. It should be noted that it is not peculiar that an additional criterion for the recitation of Haetz is presented by the Acharonim absent a Talmudic source for this point.  This is so because the aforementioned Rosh presents a second requirement for Haetz that is not presented in the Talmud.

A passage from the Tosefta is cited as the source for the assertion that a plant is not a tree if it produces fruit within a year of planting.  However, the source quoted by the Rav Pealim and Rav Ovadia Yosef, which mention this Tosefta, does not cite the precise source of this Tosefta.  In fact, Rav Mordechai Eliyahu (Techumin 7:92) notes that this Tosefta has yet to be discovered.

9. See note 2.  It seems that according to the Chazon Ish (Orlah 12:3) the Beracha might be Haetz.  The Chazon Ish writes that Haadama is recited on a fruit of a tree in which "a seed produces fruit within a year and does not last more than three years."  The Chazon Ish does not fully accept the criterion of the Radvaz and Rav Pealim because there is no source in the Gemara for the assertion that a tree that produces fruit within a year does not have the status of a fruit tree.  On the other hand, the Chazon Ish believes that if a tree does not produce fruit after its third year from planting, Orlah restrictions do not apply.  The Chazon Ish reasons that it is "counterintuitive to say that there is a tree whose fruits are always forbidden to consume" (see Tzitz Eliezer 2:15 who rejects this approach).  In practice, the Chazon Ish combines both approaches and concludes that if both criterion are fulfilled - it grows fruits within a year of planting and does not last three years - then the tree is not considered a fruit tree by halachic standards.  We mentioned earlier that under "favorable conditions" papaya trees produce fruit for five years of more.  Thus, papaya does not seem to meet the Chazon Ish's criteria to be considered a vegetable.  This question requires more attention.  However, this might be the basis to rule that if ______ one recited Haetz on papaya, that he must recite another Beracha.  Rav Hershel Schachter told this author that he believes this assertion that Haetz suffices ______ for papaya.  In addition, see Rav Yosef's comments regarding this passage in the Chazon Ish. 

10. See, however, Teshuvot Igrot Moshe Orach Chaim 86.

11. The Ritva (Sukkah 35a s.v. V'ha) clearly supports this view as does the Shita Mekubetzet (Berachot 40a s.v. Man).  The Chazon Ish (Orlah 12:3 paragraph beginning V'nireh) also seems to believe that as long as the tree produces fruit the next year even though the particular branch does not produce fruit from year to year, the Beracha should be Haetz.  In addition, see note 5 where it was pointed out that it appears the Rav Pealim would rule that Haetz is the correct Beracha for raspberries.

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