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Hydroponically-Grown Lettuce

Q. What bracha should I recite on hydroponically-grown produce? May I use hydroponically grown romaine lettuce at the Seder?

A. The considerable discussion in the Poskim regarding the bracha on hydroponically grown produce is beyond the scope of this column, but here are some highlights:

Some (Chayei Adam 51:17 & Nishmas Adam 152:1, Yechaveh Da'as 6:12, and Machzeh Eliyahu 25-29) hold that the bracha is shehakol because the wording of the bracha "BaruchÂ…who creates the fruit of the earth" (borei pri ha'adamah) is inappropriate for items that grow unattached to the firmament or that grow in a non-earthlike media (e.g., water, coconut coir). Rav Gedalia Dov Schwartz, zt"l ruled that one should follow this opinion.

Others argue that the bracha of borei pri ha'adamah was instituted for all vegetables, regardless of exactly how they grew. This is the opinion of Chazon Ish, Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Vezos HaBracha, Birur Halacha #24), Shevet HaLevi (1:205), Teshuvos V'Hanhagos 2:149, and Rav Shmuel Kaminetzky (Koveitz Halachos, Pesach 24:6).

The use of hydroponically-grown romaine lettuce at the Seder is much more straightforward, as Chazon Ish (Kilayim 13:16) conclusively proves from Gemara Pesachim 35b that wheat that grew unattached to the ground (e.g., in a flowerpot) may be used for matzah at the Seder. Since many of the requirements for marror, including that it must be produce of the "land", are derived from the halachos of matzah (see Gemara Pesachim 39a) it follows that hydroponically grown marror may surely be used at the Seder.

For more information on this topic, see the Hydroponics article that first appeared in the cRc Pesach Guide 2024.