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Halachos of fruits, vegetables, and all things grown


Prepared for print by Faigy Peritzman

I like serving fillet of salmon on Shabbos day with a wedge of lemon for taste and presentation. Is it a problem to squeeze these lemon wedges onto the salmon before eating?

The halachah follows the opinion of most poskim who permit squeezing a lemon wedge onto salmon on Shabbos. In general, squeezing a lemon on Shabbos would be forbidden mid’Rabbanan because of the melachah of sechitah. But the halachah differentiates between squeezing a lemon into a liquid (e.g., tea, juice, soup), which is forbidden, and squeezing a lemon directly onto a solid food (e.g., fish, salad, guacamole) to improve its taste, which is permitted, as long as at least most of the juice is absorbed into the food.

We recently bought a new house from a non-Jew that has several fruit trees in the back yard. Are we required to begin waiting four years from our purchase until we can eat the fruit, or are the years of orlah counted from when the trees were planted?

The years of orlah are counted from when the trees were planted. If you’re unsure when the trees were planted and have no way of finding out, then if you live in Eretz Yisrael, you need to be stringent and wait until you know that four years have passed, but if you live outside of Eretz Yisrael, you may be lenient and eat the fruits immediately.

I’m trying to reach 100 brachos a day and thought to add to the list by smelling various fruits and herbs daily. How do I differentiate between the types of besamim to say the proper brachah on each item?

Recite borei isvei besamim over fragrant herbs, grasses, or flowers that grow directly from the ground. Recite borei atzei besamim over fragrant shrubs and trees or their flowers. Nowadays we don’t recite a brachah over fragrant edible fruits, since fruits are grown for their taste and not for their smell. On all other natural fragrances, or if you’re unable to determine if the herb grows directly from the ground or on a tree, recite borei minei besamim.

We have a beautiful public park in our city that boasts many fruit trees and flower beds. Are we allowed to pick the fruit or flowers from there, as it belongs to all residents of the city?

Ask the people who run your local parks department.

We’re traveling to Israel this winter and were wondering if this year there is anything to be careful about after shemittah?

There are still issues to be concerned about even during the year after shemittah, such as fruits that were planted last year, during shemittah, that can still be found on the market this year. In addition, there are certain vegetables that grew on their own last year (sefichin), and were picked last year, and can still be found on the market. To avoid questions, eat only fruits and vegetables that have a reliable kashrus certification.

I like serving the liver and egg salad on Shabbos decorated with vegetables. May I carve the vegetables into shapes or flowers or julienne them?

Carving vegetables into meaningful shapes or flowers on Shabbos is forbidden by many poskim, and it’s customary to be stringent. It is permitted to use a knife to julienne the vegetables, which means chopping them into matchstick-style pieces that measure two to three inches long and 1/16- to 1/8th-inch wide.

Is there a brachah issue with eating cubed bread croutons with a vegetable salad?

If the store-made bread croutons are added into the salad because of their taste, then before eating the salad, remove a cube or two out of the salad, recite mezonos, and then recite ha’adamah on the rest of the salad. If the croutons are added merely as a decoration or as a filler, then just recite ha’adamah over the entire salad.

I was making a pareve salad and realized I cut the radishes with a dairy knife. Is the whole salad now dairy?

A salad that contains radishes that were cut with a dairy knife (a “clean dairy knife” is a knife that in the past was used to cut yad soledes bo dairy) is classified as a dairy salad, and it may not be eaten along with meat or chicken. It may be eaten after meat or chicken have been consumed, even without waiting any time in between. If you remove the radishes from the salad, you may eat the rest of the salad even together with meat or chicken..   


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 829)

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