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Can I Thank G‑d for a Hybrid Fruit?

Can I Thank G‑d for a Hybrid Fruit?

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Question:

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?

Answer:

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.”1 In Hebrew this prohibition is called kil’ayim.

But while crossbreeding is forbidden, we are permitted to eat most hybrid fruits.2 This is because the verse says “you shall not sow,” and it does not say, “you shall not eat.”3 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 Shehechiyanu4: “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.”5 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.6

Rabbi Yehuda Shurpin
Chabad.org/AskTheRabbi

Footnotes
1.

Talmud, Kiddushin 39a. See also Why Aren't Jews Allowed to Interbreed Plants?

2.

Provided it is not the result of a mixture with a grapevine, based on the verse (Deut. 22:9), “You shall not sow your vineyard [together with] a mixed variety of species, lest the increase, even the seed that you sow and the yield of the vineyard, [both] become forbidden.” See citation in footnote 3.

3.

See Mishnah, Kil’ayim 8:1; Talmud, Chullin 115a; Rambam, Hil. Kil’ayim 1:7.

4.

Pronounced she-he-khee-yah-noo.

6.

See Ba’er Heitev, Orach Chaim 225:7; Igros Moshe, Orach Chaim, vol. 2, responsum 58; Yabia Omer, vol. 5, responsum 19.

Rabbi Yehuda Shurpin responds to questions for Chabad.org's Ask the Rabbi service.
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Josh Birmingham April 3, 2015

All fruits and vegetables have been hybridized at some point in history, through selective breeding to retain of produce more desirable characteristics. The idea that hybridization, which is a process that occurs naturally in any case, would be forbidden is ridiculous. Lemons, for example, are a result of centuries of selective breeding of an original citron far more similar to etrog. Would it therefore be contrary to the mitzvah to grow lemons, or to say bracha directly on them? Reply

Shoshana Georgia January 22, 2014

Hybrid and GMO Seedless grapes and watermelons are the result of hybridization. Personally I won't eat fruits without seeds. I try to avoid GMO produce (the bar code with #8 denotes GMO in produce) albeit this is not always possible. The nutritional value of staples like corn has been compromised by GMO (that also require certain pesticides as well). These are fed to animals that people consume, so directly or indirectly our exposure to these foods has increased considerably, specially in the US. Some of the foods offered to people are in effect chimeras which are totally against Torah as they are mixing seeds from two species and many do not occur naturally.
What about vaccines with the potentiality of altering DNA which are loaded with tameh animal cells such as pig and monkey? Reply

Anonymous US September 3, 2013

GMO & Kosher What are we to do with GMO foods which have had the DNA altered beyond the natural ability to cross breed- for instance, rice modified with human genes to create human milk substitutes, Cabbages with scorpion genes inserted and fish such as Salmon with genes such as eel inserted. This is but a small fraction of what is going on with our food. How are we to come to terms with these in the light of laws of Kashrut? Reply

Amand Keultjes Delft, Netherlands August 3, 2013

Hybrid Fruit These hybrid fruits are not truly of mixed origin. Most apple seeds for example yield crab apples and most citrus seeds yield kaffir limes.
The fruits we eat are mostly special results. But are you aware that sowing mixed seeds really happens in organic horticulture: potato seedlings are combined with nightshades to protect the seedlings.
Methinks the Torah only says us not to really mess up plants (and animals).
Should we not always thank HaShem for a good fruit or any enjoyment? Reply

LaZyDoxLearner May 8, 2013

What counts as a hybrid by halacha though? Might these two be considered the same species if they are able to interbreed naturally? Reply

Michael Fort Worth August 9, 2012

Letter of the Law vs. Spirit of the Law Sounds like a lot of legalistic loop-hole seeking to me. 'A young mother of two young boys often had to take her children to hand for their natural tendencies of rivalry and contentiousness. One particular morning the younger of the two, being smaller and brighter than his older sibling, got the better in an intellectual exchange, to which the older frustrated boy responded physically and struck the younger. Crying, the younger son sought out his mother for solace and protection. Naturally, the mother chastised the elder, saying "If you ever hit your brother again, you will regret it" and to back up the admonition, she spanked him. With firm instructions to 'play nice', the mother summarily dismissed both children. Within minutes, the younger brother was once again crying, seeking out his mother. At her wits end, the mother confronted her older son and exclaimed, "Didn't you listen to me?" to which he defiantly responded, "You said, not to hit... so I kicked him instead!" Reply

Akiva Hillel Singapore, Singapore August 9, 2011

Does this mean we can only grow non-GM food? Does "You shall not sow your field with a mixture of seeds" mean we cannot grow non GM food? Reply

Sarah Masha W Bloomfield, Mi/USA March 9, 2011

Alberto of RJ Br Grafting has nothing to do with the seeds. It is when you take a branch (a small one) of one tree and add it into the trunk of another tree. Eventually the two pieces grow together, and become one tree. A fruit example of this would be Navel Oranges, they are all products of grafting. (Ever notice that they don't have seeds?) Each part of the tree keeps all its own properties. Doing this enough/ to a ridiculous extreme could result in a six branched tree yielding apples, pears, oranges, plums, peaches, and apricots, each from it's own branch.

Pluots, tangelos, and other hybrid fruits are the result of cross breeding, mixing different fruits, by using pollen of one kind to fertilize another. Bob Mark points out that most of our produce is called hybrid by being the result of breeding different varieties of the same fruits together. As stated, pears cannot self fertilize. They only grow if crossbred, at least with a different pear, but usually by other fruits. Reply

Joan Levinson Trinity, FL/USA March 8, 2011

Hybrid Fruit I wondering what your opinion is on genetically modified food. Our Hadassah Chapter had a study group yesterday and the Speaker was against genetically modified produce for health reasons. Would the same rules apply to produce that apply to fruit? In this country, it's hard to find corn that is not genetically modified since the same company provides all the seed. Organic produce is both more expensive and less readily available. Reply

Yehuda Shurpin (Author) March 7, 2011

Re: Pile of questions There is a discussion in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 56b) whether the prohibition of grafting applies to non-Jews as well. There are differences of opinion as to whom the Halacha follows, as such one should contact their own Orthodox Rabbi to clarify which opinion to follow. Reply

Yehuda Shurpin (Author) March 7, 2011

Re: Bending the rules? "This is because the verse says "you shall not sow," and it does not say, "you shall not eat."

To clarify, it is not simply that it says "you shall not sow," and it does not say, "you shall not eat."Rather, it is that with regards to a vineyard the verse does explicitly state that the yield itself is forbidden (see Deuteronomy 22:9)This implies that kilayim\mixtures of other seeds are permitted (see Talmud Chulin 115a). Reply

Bob Mark Paramus, NJ March 7, 2011

hybrid fruit The pluot (not plumcot) is not the only hybrid fruit. In fact most of the varieties of apples that you see out in the market are hybrid fruits blended for either text, texture or best for baking etc.

Additionally, one does not sow to make a hybrid fruit, they are blended by a totally different method so i would certainly question if the commandment not to sow would apply to fruit grown on trees. There are also many varieties of corn that are hybrids, and countless other varieties. By telling us not to say Shechayanu on such fruit you are requiring the eater to be quite the scientist or student requiring us to learn about every fruit we eat and its genetic background. You have to be a bit practical. Reply

Anonymous Hilo March 4, 2011

Bending the rules? "This is because the verse says "you shall not sow," and it does not say, "you shall not eat."

Excuse me? I can see my child saying, "Mom, you said don't lay my hands on the item. You didn't say my feet"

Eating the fruit comes from sowing something. Reply

Anonymous Prague, Czech Rep March 4, 2011

hybrid fruit If G_d forbids us from sowing hybrid fruit, wouldn't it follow that He also would not want us to eat them?! Reply

Anonymous Cape Town, South Africa March 4, 2011

hybrid fruit as I understand it, hybrid fruit is made by grafting a part of one kind of fruit tree onto another kind of fruit tree. It is not a case of planting mixed seeds and hoping for the best!!
Does the law concerning the mixing of seeds still apply? Israeli scientists have been in the forefront of restructuring fruit such as grapefruit and even wheat. Is this all not Kosher? Reply

Alberto Chinicz Rio de Janeiro, Brasil March 3, 2011

I thinks there is a great difference between "You shall not sow your field with a mixture of seeds." and "crossbreeding".
Mixture of seeds are many different seeds but not crossbreeded, To do a crossbreed you must "graft" two or more seeds but not sow a mixture of "pure" seeds. Reply

David Los Alamitos March 3, 2011

Eating a Forbiddden Fruit If it is forbidden to grow a hybrid fruit, does it not follow that we should not be able to benefit from a forbidden activity? Reply

Sarah Masha W Bloomfield, Mi/USA March 2, 2011

Pile of questions As you point out the prohabition is on our sowing/crossbreeding, not on eating the resulting fruit. So if we knew or could assume that the farmer was not Jewish, and therefore not bound by this law, would that change the status of saying shechiyanu?

Plumcot/Pluots are hybrids of plums and apricots, two different stone fruits.
Tangelos are tangerines and oranges. Are those considered two different fruits or similar enough to be the "same"?

How about Jonamac apples? They are a combo of Jonathon and MacIntosh apples. Both are apples, but different kinds.

How about pears? Most trees can self pollenate, but not pears. A pear orchard of only one kind of pear will be fruitless. Different varieties of pears are okay, but different fruits (apples) give much better yeilds.

What about a second generation mixture? That is, growing a tree from the stone of a pluot, or seed from a tangelo?

And do any of these change based on the status of the farmers or workers? Reply

David Chester Petach Tikva, Israel March 2, 2011

Milk and Meat Eating milk and meat together is prohibited in our religion from many viewpoints, not one of which is exactly the same as the prohibition of not boiling them together. We are also prohibited from killing the mother and her off-spring animals together.

So the idea is actually needing some interpretation outside the original first direct instruction. This is where we have developed tradition which goes beyond basic direct law and for which as Jews our thinking and feeling abilities enable us to become updated and at one with the changing and developing nature of our world.

Without this it would not only be less interesting, it would also be very rigid and when we and others have tried taking this attitude it has led to disasters in past civilizations including in our own history. Reply

Leib (Larry Razek) Flint, Mich February 28, 2011

Fruit I didn't even know that there were hybrid fruits? You learn something everyday!!
Shalom Reply

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