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Study and Theory/
Tu BiShvat

The Prohibition to Damage Fruit

Deuteronomy 20:

Do not destroy its trees by putting an ax to them, because you can eat their fruit. Do not cut them down because a man is the tree of the field...


Talmud Bavli, Brachot 33:2

Rabbi Yehudah said: Whoever goes out in the days of Nissan and sees trees that are blooming should say: "Blessed is he who has not omitted anything in his world, and created good creatures and good trees decorate mankind"


Talmud Bavli, Ta'anit, 5:2 

A story is told of a man who walked in the desert, hungry, tired and thirsty and found a tree with sweet fruit and a nice shade, and an aqueduct of water passing beneath it. He ate some of its fruit and drank from its waters and sat in its shade. And when he was ready to leave he said: Tree, tree, how shall I bless you? If I wish your fruit to be sweet, your fruit are already sweet! That your shade be pleasant, "your shade is already pleasant!" - that the aqueduct pass beneath you, the aqueduct already passes beneath you! Therefore: May it be the will of above, that all seedlings grown from you - be like you!


Kohelet Rabbah 7:28:

At that time, the Holy One, blessed be He, took Adam, the first man and led him through all the trees of the Garden of Eden, and said to him, "Behold, my creations, how fine and valuable they: and all that I created, I created for you. Make sure you do not damage and destroy my world, since if you damage it, there is no one who can repair what you spoil.


Pirkei De-Rabbi Eliezer 34:

When a fruit bearing tree is cut down, its voice is carried from one edge of the world to the other edge of the world and it is not heard.


A Hymn of Yeni, a Poet of Israel of the Fifth Century

A land that to it with your power you led us

A land that to it with your power you led us

A good gift you have bestowed us

A land of wheat and barley, a land of grapevines

A land of figs to the 'first-born' fig

A land of pomegranates to the 'slice of pomegranate'

A land of olives to those whose glory is like that of an olive tree

A land flowing with milk and honey

To those who, under their tongue, there is milk and honey



It is forbidden to chop fruit trees in a destructive manner. And anyone that chops them transgresses a negative commandment and is beaten for this. But it is permissible to chop a fruit bearing tree if it causes damage to a tree of better quality, or it is harmful to fields of others, or its cutting down is of great benefit, and it is also permissible to cut down a fruit tree that is old, bears little fruit and it is worthless to exert efforts to handle them.

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