Birkat Ha’ilanot – Blessing on the Trees

The Blessing on Blossoming Trees in the month of Nisan

by Ariella Bracha Waldinger

floweringtree1One of my favorite mitzvot is the Bracha (blessing) said when seeing blossoming trees in the springtime, in the month of Nisan. The source of this mitzvah is in the Gemara in tractate Masechet Berachot 43b, where it is written: “A person who goes out during the days of Nisan and sees trees in bloom, says, “Blessed are you Lord our G-d, King of the Universe, who did not leave anything lacking in His universe, and created in it good creatures and trees, to give pleasure to humankind with them.”  There are many opinions and rulings regarding this blessing which I will not address but invite you to discover them on your own. My purpose is to bring the beauty of this precious mitzvah to your attention as every single mitzvah is meant to be made the object of love and affection and this one is so simple and sweet.

Birkat  Ha’ilanot,  the name of the blessing in Hebrew, is said when one sees two fruit trees in bloom. It is recited only once a year, and only after Rosh Chodesh Nisan. The words themselves have a melodious ring to my ears. Nisan introduces spring time in Israel. The warmth is returning following a cold, damp, rainy (B’ezrat HaShem) winter.  The earth is transforming and coming alive and the trees are adorned in their spring finery…lovely blossoms of pinks and white…perfuming the air and touching our hearts.bloomingtree

The trees are symbolic of G-d’s own flow of life giving abundance and rebirth potential. Torah commentaries state that HaShem took us out of mitzrayim in the spring during the mild weather when our hearts were warmed. During this time, we are spiritually uplifted as we witness the beauty of nature and connect with its life giving messages.

School children throughout the land of Israel are taken on outings to orchards, gardens or similar places during Nisan to learn to integrate the lessons of nature with an appreciation of the Creator.

Man is symbolically called the tree of the field. The Ben Ish Chai states that similar to the tree which was once dry and withered and now comes into full bloom, even the hopeless person can be rejuvenated. He says, “watching the transformation of nature can provide us with the courage and inspiration to lift us out of despair, and remind us that HaShem has given us the tools to revitalize ourselves.”

Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, states “Love for the Land of Israel is an intense appreciation of the land’s development and transformation from a wasteland to a paradise.  But even more than that, it means a deep inner dialogue with the land’s sanctity, its values and its unique hidden qualities. This is the land chosen by G-d Himself for His nation and for which HE harbors love. It is not just some land, IT IS THE HOLY LAND and holiness finds expression in special concrete ways.

floweringtree3By taking on this beautiful mitzvah, you will be showing your appreciation as well as affirming the land’s inherent sanctity. Since the Holy one Blessed Be He made the trees flower anew, it is a chance to show our gratitude.  Let each of us take the opportunity to choose to personally show our appreciation of the glorious trees in our Blessed homeland and recite this beautiful Bracha with a heart full of awe, wonder and gratitude. Let us allow the recital of the blessing to inspire within us feelings of thanksgiving to HaShem for all the blessings He has bestowed upon us and for this precious mitzvah itself. The Elya Rabba states that those who recite the blessing merit receiving the blessing Yitzchak gave to Yaakov (may it be so, please G-d).

The Torah commentaries teach that each mitzvah we perform is permeated with purity and holiness because each mitzvah emanates from HaShem, the creator of heaven and earth. They teach that the performance of the mitzvah and the esoteric holiness embedded in the mitzvah is inseparable.

The Holy Ariza’l teaches that Birkat Hailanot is a tremendous mitzvah. Whoever makes this bracha, with deep kavanah (concentration) has the power to redeem souls that have been reincarnated in the trees, making it possible for these souls to be elevated and complete their soul rectification.

SO gather some friends and family and find a location to surround yourselves in the light, beauty and joy of G-d’s gift of nature and say the blessing and know that as you say the words, you are bringing holiness into our whole nation.

May we merit through our performance of Mitzvot that the Shechinah rests upon the Nation of Israel.

Happy Spring time! Happy Pesach! With Love, Ariella Bracha

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