Q. In Ask the Rabbi question 35, the Rav recommends avoiding cutting down a fruit tree, it seems even if it no longer bears fruit.
However, it is clear in the Rambam (Hilchos M’lochim 6:9) that one can even cut down a date tree if it still grows fruit but makes less than a Kav of dates. Why would the Rav say to avoid cutting down that tree?
A. Indeed on question 35 regarding cutting down a grape vine tree that causes distress to someone allergic to it. we wrote:; “Darchei Teshuvah 116:51 writes that all fruit trees are included in the prohibition mentioned in Parshas Shoftim of cutting fruit trees, even a tree that bears bitter or wormy fruit. In some instances Poskim permit the cutting of tree if it is ruining or weakening other nearby trees or fields, or if the wood of the tree is more valuable than its fruit. Rambam, Hilchos Melachim 6:8, based on Bava Kamma 92a; Shulchan Aruch Harav (Shemiras Guf v’Nefesh 15); Doveiv Meisharim 1:134.
Kaf ha-Chayim 116:85. permits cutting if a fruit-laden tree is darkening the window of a house, or brings bugs into the house, unless the problem can be alleviated by just trimming the branches.
Since we find in Rabbinic literature that a curse and other ominous warnings are in effect on cutting fruit trees (see Bava Kamma 91b; Bava Basra 26a), and Rabbeinu Yehudah Hahasid in his Will also warns against destroying them, some Poskim conclude that even when it is halachically permitted to cut down a tree it should be nevertheless avoided.
Horav Shlomo Miller Shlit”a is of the opinion that the best way to deal with the problematic vine is to sell the tree to a non-Jew (using Kinyan Kesef – monetary acquisition) and have him dispose of it in whichever way he would prefer or benefit.”
Horav Shlomo Miller’s Shlit’a opinion regarding your question is that although following the strict ruling of Halacha you may follow the Rambam’s opinion. however, due to the curses and other ominous warnings involved, it is recommended to be cautious and careful. (See next question 2903, for a similar situation).
Rabbi A. Bartfeld as advised by Horav Shlomo Miller and Horav Aharon Miller Shlit’a