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Topic: Ilan, Origin of Word

John Rosen from Toronto & Herzelia wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

My 5 year old son named Ilan asked: "If an 'ilan' means specifically a fruit tree (as opposed to the generic "eitz" which refers to any type of tree, as two Israelis explained this distinction to him), why do we say 'borei p'ri ha-eitz' instead of 'borei p'ri ha-ilan?' " Thank you - this question has stumped a number of people.


Dear John Rosen and Ilan,

"Eitz" is the Torah's term for "tree", whether a fruit tree or not. The format of the blessings were chosen by our Sages to correspond to the terminology used by the Torah.

"Ilan" is the term for "tree" in common speech, but it never appears in the Torah. "Ilan" is actually an Aramaic word.

Sources:

  • Deut. 20:19, 20
  • Responsa Batzel HaChochma


 
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