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Birkath Ha’Ilanoth Before Nisan

March 16, 2015

Question: Is it early enough for me to say birkat ha’ilanot? Some fruit trees outside are already blooming, but the calendar says the beracha time starts on Rosh Chodesh.

Answer: It is already time to recite the blessing. This is explicit in the Mishna B’rura and other books. And this is way I do it with my family.

Question: So why does the calendar have it only once Nisan starts?

Answer: Calendar makers tend to try to quantify and categorize more than they should, thereby creating new rules. I pointed out earlier that the various opinions as to when the blessing on seeing the New Moon is recited is not an exact time defined by the halacha, but in the 1800’s it did become exact. The calendar makers would have a hard time creating charts telling people exactly when to do things if the the actual times for them were in inexact. The Talmud and codes use the terms “yomei nisan” or “y’mei nisan“, which are Aramaic and Hebrew, respectively, for literally, “the Nisan days”, because the sages, as a rule, did not use the names for the solar months but nevertheless wished to refer to the March-April season. Had they meant actual Nisan, they would have said simply, “b’nisan,” in Nisan. This also stands to reason: the start date of Nisan relative to agriculture seasons fluctuates, so the sages used a term that accounts for that.

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