I recently purchased a fruit that I have never tasted before called a “plumcot,” a crossbreed between a plum and an apricot. I heard that G‑d does not want us to create hybrid fruit. So my question is, if G‑d is not happy with this fruit, should I make a blessing before eating it?
The actual crossbreeding of fruits is prohibited by the Torah in the verse (Leviticus 19:19) that says, “You shall not sow your field with a mixture of seeds.” In Hebrew this prohibition is called kil’ayim.
But while crossbreeding is forbidden, we are permitted to eat most hybrid fruits. This is because the verse says “you shall not sow,” and it does not say, “you shall not eat.” And as with any other fruit, we are required to make the standard blessing thanking G‑d before we eat.
You mention that this is the first time you will be tasting this fruit. This brings up another interesting question regarding the blessing to be made.
Before eating a fruit you have not yet eaten in its season, you make a special blessing called Shehechiyanu: “Blessed are You, L‑rd our G‑d, King of the Universe, who has granted us life, sustained us and enabled us to reach this occasion” (see more here).
There are some Rabbinic authorities who are of the opinion that since one is permitted to eat hybrid fruits, one should also be able to make the Shehechiyanu blessing on them. Others point out that there is a fundamental difference between the standard blessing made on all fruits and the blessing of Shehechiyanu. Blessings before eating are acknowledgments that “the earth and all therein is G‑d’s.” The Shehechiyanu blessing, on the other hand, is recited to express our joy and gratitude to G‑d for having merited the special experience of eating a new fruit.
Based on the above differentiation, many authorities in Jewish law rule that one does not recite a Shehechiyanu blessing on a hybrid fruit. They reason that we cannot make a blessing of joy for having merited this experience, when this experience was made possible only by doing something against G‑d’s will.
Therefore, one should make the Shehechiyanu on a non-hybrid fruit that definitely requires the blessing, and have the hybrid fruit in mind. In this way, one satisfies both of the opinions cited above.
If one does not have another new fruit, one should not say the Shehechiyanu blessing, in keeping with the ruling that when in doubt about a blessing one refrains in order to avoid saying G‑d’s name in vain.
Rabbi Yehuda Shurpin