We are continuing in siman 6. When we learned the brachos of haeitz and haadama on foods, we learned that there are a few criteria to determine when an item becomes haeitz. All poskim agree that a part of the tree must last from year to year to be haeitz. There is a machlokes rishonim regarding how much of the tree must remain, and our minhag is that a part of the trunk (and not just roots) must remain in order for the tree to be considered haeitz.
Regarding our halachos, we also need to determine the difference between a tree and a non-tree in order to determine whether the bracha will be borei atzei besamim or borei isvei besamim. Some rishonim hold that the criteria will be exactly the same as those used to determine haeitz and haadama. Others hold that the criteria depend on whether the stalk is hard like flax or whether it is softer, like grass, and all food criteria are irrelevant. They argue that as the two choices are isvei and atzei, as long as it is hard, it is wood and not grass, irregardless whether it is a full fledged tree.
The Chayei Adam himself holds that some part of the tree must remain from year to year in order to receive the bracha of borei atzei besamim, but does not require that a part of the trunk remain. However, the Mishnah Berurah writes that an item must meet the criteria of haeitz, and be as hard as a flax stalk in order to receive the bracha of borei atzei besamim.
If the item is hard, but does not meet the criteria for haeitz, or meets the criteria for haeitz but is not hard, the Mishnah Berurah holds that one should make borei isvei besamim. However, according to other rishonim, the correct bracha is borei atzei besamim. One is not yotzei if they make a borei isvei besamim on an item which should really be borei atzei besamim, and vice versa. Therefore, if the item meets both criteria, one should make a borei atzei besamim, in accordance with all poskim. If the item meets neither criteria, one should make borei isvei besamim. If the item only meets one of the criteria, one should recite borei minei besamim, which works on all items, in order to avoid making a bracha which only works according to one opinion.
We have learned that regarding the brachos of haeitz and haadama, even if a tree meets the criteria for its fruit to be haeitz, only the primary fruit of the tree receives a haeitz. If the tree produces a second, non-primary fruit, its bracha will be haadama. Regarding smell, we do not apply this halacha, and any outgrowths of a tree which meet the criteria of borei atzei besamim will receive that bracha.
The Chayei Adam writes that the lavender bush lasts from year to year, and the stalks are hard enough to receive the bracha of borei atzei besamim.
As we learned, if one makes the bracha of borei atzei besamim on an item which should be borei isvei besamim, or visa versa, they are not yotzei. Therefore, in any situation where one is unsure of the correct bracha, they should recite borei minei besamim which works in all situations.
- When an item meets the criteria to be haeitz (i.e., at least part of the trunk lasts from year to year), and its stalk is as hard as a flax stalk, its bracha is borei atzei besamim.
- When an item meets neither criteria, its bracha is borei isvei besamim.
- When an item meets only one criteria, its bracha is borei minei besamim out of safeik.
- Whenever one has a safeik regarding the correct bracha on a smell, they should make a borei minei besamim.
- All outgrowths of a tree which meet the criteria of borei atzei besamim will receive that bracha, even if they are not the primary outgrowth.