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Shabbat Parashat Vayishlach 5776

Ask the Rabbi: Beracha Acharona on Fruit of Non-Jews in Israel

Rav Daniel Mann

Question: If I eat nochri (field in Israel owned by a non-Jew) fruit that gets an “Al Haetz”, do I end the beracha with “… al hapeirot” or “…al peiroteha”?

 

Answer: While this sounds like a Shemitta (whose halachot continue regarding fruit) question, it applies every year. It also applies to orchards sold through heter mechira.

We start with the main sources on the change of wording of the beracha. The gemara (Berachot 44a) cites both versions of the beracha and first says that in chutz la’aretz one says “peiroteha” (on its [the Land’s] fruit) and in Israel, “hapeirot” (the fruit – more generic). The gemara asks that it does not make sense that those who don’t eat Eretz Yisrael’s fruit are the ones who mention the connection of the fruit to the Land (“for the Land and its fruit”). The gemara concludes that it is the opposite – specifically in Eretz Yisrael one says peiroteha. Fruit that grew in the Land is worthy of more prominent mention (see Rabbeinu Yona, 32a of Rif’s pages to Berachot).

The Beit Yosef (Orach Chayim 208) cites a machloket between Rabbeinu Yona and the Rashba whether one says hapeirot or peiroteha on fruit grown in Israel but eaten in chutz la’aretz. The Rashba (accepted by the Shulchan Aruch, OC 208:10) infers from the above gemara that that which one does not say peiroteha in chutz la’aretz is only when one is eating the fruit of chutz la’aretz. There is a minority opinion (Admat Kodesh I:3, rejected by Mishna Berura 208:52) that the deciding factor is whether the fruit is obligated in terumot and ma’asrot, which can sometimes apply to fruit grown in chutz la’aretz or in a non-Jew’s field (see Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 331:4, 12). However, the more accepted explanation is that peiroteha is only for the fruit grown in Eretz Yisrael. It is indeed a good question whether to view a non-Jew’s field in Eretz Yisrael as part of the Land in this regard.

There is a major machloket, raised most prominently in Gittin (47a), whether a non-Jew’s acquisition of land in Eretz Yisrael uproots the laws that apply to Eretz Yisrael. The halachic conclusion is not fully clear (see Rambam, Terumot 1:10). There are macholokot in different applications, including the one between Rav Yosef Karo (Avkat Rochel 24) and the Mabit (I:11) whether the fruit that grows under a non-Jew’s ownership has Shemitta status. The former’s opinion, that Shemitta status is removed, is the more accepted one (see Shabbat Ha’aretz (R. Kook), Mavo 15). One could then claim that such fruit is uprooted from Eretz Yisrael status regarding our question as well.

However, I have been unable to find a hint in classical texts or rulings in more recent sources that indicate a distinction within Eretz Yisrael between the fruit of Jewish-owned fields and non-Jewish fields. There are some opinions (see discussions in Birkei Yosef, OC 208:11 and Kaf Hachayim, OC 208:59) that on fruit from sections of Eretz Yisrael that lost kedushat ha’aretz with the Babylonian exile and were not restored to kedushat ha’aretz in the Second Temple, we do not say peiroteha. Not all agree. After all, these areas are still Eretz Yisrael regarding many spiritual matters (see Shabbat Haaretz ibid.). Hashem gave them to us, we will return, and, according to most, we still presently have a mitzva to live there (see Encyclopedia Talmudit, Yeshivat Eretz Yisrael, ftnt. 28-29). Our question is about areas with the kedusha from the time of the Second Temple, but an individual field was bought by a non-Jew. Such land, even according to those who say it loses some status, is fully part of Eretz Yisrael and its status is restored when a Jew buys it back (Rambam, ibid.). If the important part in our context is the practical use of the fruit, fruit that grows in either heter mechira fields or non-Jewish owned fields is regularly consumed by the community of Israeli Jews.

Therefore, even though in cases of doubt it is better to say hapeirot (Mishna Berura 208:54), the common practice to say peiroteha on fruit even from non-Jewish fields is logical.

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