Rav Moshe Spetter
Former Rosh Kollel, Washington
The Mishnah in Masekhet Berakhot (6:1) states: “One makes the blessing ‘borei pri ha’etz (who created fruits of the tree)’ on fruits that grow on a tree.” The olive is no exception, even though it is not sweet as most fruits.
The blessing on fruits or vegetables which are generally eaten either raw or cooked, is borei pri ha’etz, no matter how they are eaten. However, if a fruit or vegetable is normally eaten only when it has been cooked, then someone who eats it raw makes theshehakol blessing, since this is not the way that most people eat this food. The normal way to eat olives is pickled, so one eating pickled olives says borei pri ha’etz and one eating them in any other way says shehakol.
The Gemara in Berakhot (35b) records the opinion of Rabbi Yochanan that the blessing on olive oil is borei pri ha’etz. The Gemara clarifies under what conditions one makes this blessing over olive oil, and concludes that drinking olive oil on its own is dangerous so one shouldn’t make a blessing over it at all. When the oil is mixed with another liquid, it depends on whether the oil is the main component or not. If it is, then one says borei pri ha’etz on the mixture. If it is not, then one says shehakol. Rav Mordechai Eliyahu rules that since olive oil today is pure and there is no danger in drinking it, one who drinks straight olive oil should sayha’etz.
The olive is one of the seven species (Devarim 8:8), and therefore the afterblessing is al ha’etz v’al pri haetz . . . al ha’aretz v’al peiroteha.
One must separate terumot and ma’asrot (tithes) from olives as one does from all fruits and vegetables. If one did not separate them before squeezing the olives, one should separate them afterwards, from the oil.
(Based on Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chaim 202 and 208, and its commentaries.)