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Monday, September 27, 2010

Sukkos: Shehakol Tomatoes, Greenhouse Esrogim and Moonroof Schach

Shehakol Tomatoes and Greenhouse Esrogim

The bracha on a tomato or a cucumber is Borei P'ri Ha'adama- Who created the fruit of the Earth- except when it is not a fruit of the Earth.  If a vegetable is grown in a container that is not open to the ground, and has no branches that overhang the ground, it is not halachically attached to the Earth, and you cannot make the regular bracha "borei pri ha'adama" on it.  In that case, the correct bracha is She'hakol.  Some, but not all, greenhouse produce falls into this category.  Although some greenhouses have benches that are perforated and stand above open ground, some grow produce that is completely separated from and unexposed to the earth.  During the winter, you should check your produce, because it is common for winter tomatoes and cucumbers to have been grown in greenhouses, often hydroponically, and therefore require the bracha she'hakol. When in doubt, one should make the bracha She'hakol.

While the issue of correct brachos is important, it is a din derabanan, and this question has relevance to dinim de'oraysa as well.  For example, can you use an esrog that was grown in an atzitz she'eino nakuv, a closed pot that separates the plant from the earth?  We can understand that the words "Pri Ha'adama" exclude something grown without contact with the Earth.  But the bracha "borei pri ha'etz"- Who created the fruit of the tree- doesn't mention the ground or the earth, so the bracha for greenhouse grown tree fruit should still be "ha'etz," and it should therefore satisfy the requirement in the Torah to use "Pri Eitz Hadar."  Similarly in the case of Hadasim, it says Anaf Eitz Avos, but nothing about the ground.  Certainly, the Aravos and Lulav should be fine, since it doesn't even say Pri or Eitz.  On the other hand, perhaps the word "eitz" connotes a tree that grows from the Earth, in which case a greenhouse esrog or hadas would not be kosher.

This is not a remote case.  As it happens, I have both an esrog and a hadas in pots which spend the summer outdoors and (because I live in Zone 5a/b) the winter in the house.  They are over twenty two years old, and have produced a great number of kosher esrogim and hadasim, though the esrog is long past its bearing years, and I trim the Hadas more as Bonsai than as a source of Hadasim.  I just realized that the esrog, the hadas, and I, are all superannuated.

Reb Moshe (OC 4:#124) indicates that they are kosher.   (Reb Reuven Feinstein argued that  his father was only mattir bedi'eved.  That may be true, but the cited teshuva shows that he was mattir lehalacha, and in the teshuva he does not say it is only bedieved.)  Reb Yaakov Kaminetsky is also mattir lechatchila.  His son in law used to raise esrogim in a greenhouse in Monsey.  However, the Chayei Adam in his Hilchos Sukka 152:3 (discussed extensively in his Nishmas Adam there) is not sure of the halacha in the case of all the four minim.  Although he believes they ought to be kosher, he has a problem with a Rambam in Hilchos Trumos (second perek) that indicates the opposite.  Reb Aharon Kotler was the biggest machmir on this issue.  He held that not only is such a fruit not kosher for Sukkos, but if the tree the fruit grew on was ever detached from the ground, that tree is forever passul for growing arba minim.  The Yam shel Shlomo and the Chazon Ish also discuss this, but I don't have access to my notes at the moment.

As far as Brachos, the Chayei Adam in his Hilchos Brachos (I don't remember the klal number but its easy to find) says that you make a she'hakol on this kind of vegetable, and mezonos on bread that is made from this kind of wheat (astronauts, pay attention.)  However, in line with his safek in Hilchos Sukka, he leaves unresolved the halacha regarding borei pri ha'etz.

(I think it's odd to say that and explicit element- Arvei Nachal, a brook willow- is not read as requiring that it actually grow near a brook, and you can use a willow that grew far from any brook, and to then say that an implicit requirement, that the eitz be grown in the ground, is integral.)

Moonroof Schach

As for Moonroof Schach, someone pointed out that if you want to go on a trip, you can throw a schach mat over your sun or moonroof, and have a kosher sukka.  Here's a picture of the car I drive, a Subaru Forester:

The sides of the car would have a halacha of Dofen Akuma, and you can't sit under the dofen akuma, so you would have to eat under the open part, not the closed roof.  There's also an issue of having the table in a non-kosher part of the Sukka (OC 634:4).  So make sure to eat off of your lap, or to use a lap table, not the dashboard.

This arrangement is better than the idea of opening two doors on one side of the car and putting the schach on between the tops of the doors, thus creating a three-sided sukka- the car and the two doors.  The car door sukka can involve a problem of having the walls of the sukka more than three tefachim above the floor of the sukka, which is passul (no gud asik because gediim bokim bo).  The Moonroof option, on the other hand, has the walls going down to the floor.

For the first commenter, who mentioned that his daughter wants a picture of a sukka on an elephant, here.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this piece--especially the automobile sukkoth concept, which, heretofore, I never considered. I was discussing the concept of pasei bira’ot. And "virtual walls"--gud asik and gud achit--with my young son, a master lego builder and we have been playing with the idea of the limits of sitting and not sitting in our sukkah. He will love the concept and the photo. He does not yet know about sun or moon roofs, as we have none.

If you have any ideas about (photos of?) sukkoth atop elephants, by daughter would be very interested.

Moadim l'simha,


Anonymous said...


Although the second part of my comment was tongue-in-cheek in the spirit of your unusual sukkah concept, I appreciate your humoring me. And my daughter will love the photo. The idea hit when we were discussing Sukkot and Gittin, I think, and elephantine sukkoth walls. When I explained that the elephant would have to be tethered somehow and fed, her immediate concern became the alimentary process as a whole...I had hoped to get that by her.

Schulz said...

this is very interesting.
I think might have had a thing about halacha.

anyways very nice post, very informative.

Anonymous said...

Yes, see the treatment of this in shas. I saw in a shiur somewhere pi tikrah yored v’sotem described, with proper reverence, as "halachic duct tape."


great unknown said...

moonroof opening zayin al zayin?