The Nusach of Birkas Ha’illanos


fruit-treeBy R’ Moshe Friedman,

What is the correct nusach for Birkas Ha’illanos?

According to Kabbalah, Birkas Ha’illanos should be said only in Chodesh Nissan. This year, trees in most of North America haven’t blossomed until Iyar. According to halachah, most poskim hold it is perfectly acceptable to make the brachah during the months of Adar or Iyar.

In Shas Bavli and Yerushalmi, Zohar, poskim (Tur, Shulchan Aruch 233) and all siddurim printed over 300 years ago, the nusach of the brachah ends “Shelo chisar ba’olamo klum.” Most siddurim today have the nusach as “Shelo chisar ba’olamo dovor.”

Why the change?

In the year 1725, the Rezah (Rav Shlomo Zalmen Hena) printed the Siddur Bais Tefillah with his pirush, Sha’arei Tefillah. The siddur has a haskamah from the Chacham Zvi and other gedolim. The Rezah was one of the greatest ba’alei dikduk. The Pri Megadim calls him “Harav Hamedakdek Hagadol” (Orach Chaim 56). It is said that the Vilna Gaon acquired his knowledge in dikduk from the seforim of the Rezah. In his siddur, the Rezah corrected and changed the nusach wherever the dikduk was incorrect. He also changed words from the lashon chachamim (klum) to lashon Torah (dovor).

Most of the changes in the Baal Hatanya’s siddur are based on the Rezah’s Siddur Bais Hatefillah.

The Rezah was probably the first person to tamper with the nusach hatefillah. He held that dikduk overrides the nusach established by the Anshei Knesses Hagedolah.

The Yaavetz (Rav Yaakov Emden) criticized him strongly. He published a sefer, Luach Eres,
to point out all the mistakes the Rezah made. The Yaavetz in his hakdamah writes, “It is unbelievable what he (Rezah) did. He destroyed and broke fences, moved into territory that doesn’t belong to him, and there he destroyed and built without permission. He made changes whenever he felt like it. He had the ha’azoh (chutzpah) to tamper with the nusach of the Anshei Knesses Hagedolah.”

The Yaavetz also claimed that the haskamah from the Chacham Zvi was forged to make a great name for himself (Rezah).

Rav Dovid Yitzchaki claimed the other haskamos were also forged.

Rav Mordechai Duseldorff wrote a kuntres, Kuntres Hahasagos, with 192 proofs against the Rezah. The kuntres has a haskamah from the Noda B’Yehudah.

It was none other than the Rezah who changed the nusach of Birkas Ha’illanos from “Shelo chisar ba’olamo klum to dovor (lashon Torah).

The Shu”t Minchas Yitzchok (10-16) criticizes the siddurim printers for changing the nusach from klum to dovor.

{R’ Moshe Newscenter}


  1. He was not a Rav. Only a teacher of Dikduk. The Gra critizied him for making up new rules of Dikduk not found in the Rishonim. He also changed Ilanos Tovos to Ilanos Tovim which is against every nusach in the Gemora, the Rishinim and shulchan Aruch. Many other shinuyim are in todays siddurim which were accepted by the printers, but not the Gedolim of the day.