Bal Tashchit

From Halachipedia
(Redirected from Baal Tashchit)

This is the approved revision of this page, as well as being the most recent.

The primary source in the Torah not to waste is derived from the passage that forbids cutting down a fruit tree when putting a city under siege. Yet, Chazal understand that any form of wasting a useable item is included in this prohibition, generally called Bal Tashchit.[1] It is debated whether this extension to other items besides fruit trees is biblical or rabbinic in nature.[2]

Fruit Trees

  1. It is forbidden to cut down fruit bearing tree or cause it to be destroyed.[3]


  • If the wood is worth more than the fruit it produces.[4]
  • If a fruit bearing tree is causing damage it may be cut down.[5]
  • One is allowed to cut down a fruit tree if its space is needed to build or expand a house.[6]

Destroying Other Items

  1. It is forbidden to burn a useable shirt or break a vessel for no reason.[7]
  2. One should not destroy objects as a sign of mourning for the deceased.[8]


  • Bal Tashchit is violated only when one actively destroys something, and not when one acts passively to allow something to be destroyed.[9]
  • It is not a violation of bal tashchit when there is an ethical principle intended by destroying an object, such as to remind us of the destruction of the beit hamikdash.[10]
  • Some poskim permit the destruction of items when it is for the purposes of preventing a prohibition[11] to fulfill a mitzvah,[12] or even to maintain a personal stringency[13]

Other Applications

  1. Some poskim argue that buying clothes and spending beyond one's means is a violation of bal tashchit.[14]


  1. Rambam Sefer HaMitzvot (Lavin n. 57)
  2. Rambam Sefer Hamitzvot (Lo Ta'aseh 57) and Sefer Hachinuch (529) imply or say it is דאורייתא, but says in the Mishneh Torah (Melachim 6:10) that one only receives rabbinic lashes. Amongst those who assume it is דאורייתא are Chatam Sofer (Choshen Mishpat 27) and Rav Asher Weiss (Devarim Siman 34), while many earlier commentaries and poskim, including Radvaz ibid., Noda Biyehuda (Tinyanan Yoreh De'ah 10), and the Ben Ish Chai (Shu"T Torah Lishmah Yoreh De'ah 400) assume it is דרבנן.
  3. Mishneh Torah Kings and Wars 6:8
  4. Mishneh Torah Kings and Wars 6:8
  5. Mishneh Torah Kings and Wars 6:8
  6. Turei Zahav 116:6. However even though it is allowed halachically there is still an aspect of danger. Therefore if the tree has to be removed it is best to transplant it. If transplantation is not possible one should sell the tree to a non-jew and he should cut it down.
  7. Rambam Sefer HaMitzvot (Lavin n. 57), Rambam (Melachim 6:10)
  8. Bava Kama 91b and Rambam (Avel 14:24). However, in certain instances – such as over the loss of a great Talmid Chacham – it is permitted to mourn this way as long as is not excessively destructive (Tosfot Bava Kama 91b)
  9. Chazon Ish (Melachim 6:8) and Shevet Halevi (9:159:2)
  10. Brachot 31a, Tosfot there, Rema Orach Chaim 560:2 and Pri Megadim there.
  11. Ben Ish Chai (Torah Lishmah Yoreh Deah 400). Rav Asher Weiss (Devarim 34) notes this is clear from Brachos 20a as well.
  12. Torah Lishmah ibid. Har Tzvi (Orach Chaim 2:102) allows one to even cut down a tree in order to build a sukkah, although this is not his only reason for being lenient.
  13. Shevet Halevi (9:120) allows who is personally stringent not to rely on selling chametz gamur to throw out such items after Pesach, despite that they were sold to a non-Jew beforehand.
  14. Peleh Yo'etz (Levisha – 30) and Aruch Hashulchan (Choshen Mishpat 427:11)