Halacha for Thursday 15 Shevat 5771 January 20 2011

“Al Ha’aretz Ve’al HaPerot”

Question: At the end of the “Al HaMichya” blessing, if one ate fruits grown in Israel, should he end the blessing by saying “Al Ha’aretz Ve’al Peroteha” (regarding the land and its fruits)? Similarly, if one partakes of grain grown in Israel, must he end the blessing by saying “Ve’al Michyatah” (the land and its sustenance)?
 
Answer:  We must first mention the basic laws of the “Me’ein Shalosh” blessing: When one eats a Kezayit (volume of an olive equivalent to approximately 27 grams) of one of the fruits of the Seven Species (such as dates, pomegranates, or grapes), when he finishes eating he must recite the “Me’ein Shalosh” blessing (it is called this because this blessing includes in it a synopsis of the three blessings of Birkat HaMazon), i.e. “Al Ha’etz Ve’al Peri Ha’etz”. If one eats cake or any other food that requires a “Mezonot” blessing, he would also recite the “Me’ein Shalosh” blessing of “Al HaMichya Ve’al HaKalkala” after eating. Similarly, if one drinks a Revi’it (approximately 81 cc or 2.7 ounces) of wine or grape juice in one shot he must recite the “Me’ein Shalosh” blessing of “Al HaGefen Ve’al Peri HaGefen”. The text of this blessing is printed in almost all Siddurim (in the Siddur Yechave Da’at it can be found on page 274).
 
When one partakes of fruits grown in Israel, one ends the blessing by saying, “Al Ha’aretz Ve’al Peroteha”. Similarly, when one drinks wine made from grapes grown in Israel, he ends the blessing, “Al Ha’aretz Ve’al Peri Gafnah”.
 
Regarding the ending of “Al Ha’aretz Ve’al HaMichya” when one has eaten from grain (wheat, barley, and the like) grown in Israel, there is a dispute among the Poskim whether one should end the blessing, “Al Ha’aretz Ve’al Michyatah” or not, for in the words of the Rambam we only find a distinction between Eretz Yisrael and outside of Israel regarding fruits, that when one eats fruits of Israel he ends “Al Ha’aretz Ve’al Peroteha” and for other fruits one ends “Al Ha’aretz Ve’al HaPerot”. However, we find no distinction regarding the “Al HaMichya” blessing in his words at all.
 
The Halachot Ketanot writes that indeed there is a difference, for only regarding the fruits of the Seven Species is there any real praise of Israel in that only the land of Israel is able to grow all of these fruits together, whereas in other countries it is difficult to grow all of these fruits because of their varying climates. Therefore, when a fruit is grown in Israel there is a valid reason to praise Israel which is the origin of this fruit; thus, the ending of the blessing is “Al Ha’aretz Ve’al Peroteha”. However, there is usually no special advantage in grain that is grown in Israel; therefore, one should not recite “Al Ha’aretz Ve’al Michyatah”. Hagaon HaNatziv from Volozhin explains this matter further that since several grains are not members of the Seven Species (such as spelt and rye), thus one cannot praise the land of Israel with something that is not distinctive to it. The Poskim as well as Maran Shlit”a in his Chazon Ovadia (Laws of Tu Bishvat and Berachot page 192 and on) speak about this matter at length.
 
However, the Halachot Ketanot tells us that the Halacha in this matter is that since the people of Eretz Yisrael customarily change the text of the “Al HaMichya” blessing to end as “Al Ha’aretz Ve’al Michyatah” for grain grown in Israel, since this is the custom one should not deviate from it, although according to his own opinion quoted above the text should not have been changed. Maran HaChida as well as other great Poskim quote this opinion.
 
Indeed, we find in the works of earlier authorities as well, such as the Kaftor VaFerach and others, that upon eating grain grown in Israel one should recite “Al Ha’aretz Ve’al Michyatah”. Although other Poskim have written that the custom is not so, this is for a completely different reason, since most grain used in Israel is imported from the United States and other countries outside of Israel. However, if one is certain that the flour used was produced from wheat grown in Israel, he should conclude “Al Ha’aretz Ve’al Michyatah”.
 
Therefore, on Israeli Shemura Matzah, which is usually produced using wheat grown in Israel, which was then ground into Matzah meal and then used to make cakes, one must recite the “Al HaMichya” blessing after eating these cakes and conclude, “Al Ha’aretz Ve’al Michyatah”.
 
We have already mentioned in the past that the proper conclusion for this blessing is “Al Ha’aretz Ve’al HaMichya” and one should not add the words “Ve’al HaKalkala”.

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