Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cutting down a fruit tree


When may one cut down a fruit tree?

Parshat Shoftim (Devarim 20:19) warns Jewish soldiers against destroying trees which bear edible fruit, and the sages understood this to prohibit cutting down such trees in general. Some debate whether this expansion is biblical or rabbinic. The prohibition includes permitting a non-Jewish landscaper to cut down the tree.

One may cut back or destroy such a tree if it is harming a plant which produces fruit of greater importance, or if its space is needed for other activities, or if one needs its branches for a mitzvah.

One must cut back such a tree if it blocks light from reaching a neighbor's window, or if it blocks traffic through a public road.

(Bava Kama 91b-92a; Makkot 22a; Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Melachim 6:8; Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 155:26-27; Taz Yoreh Deah 116:6; Chavos Yair 195; Yachel Yisrael 34; Noam 8 pp. 117-135)

Have a great day,

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