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The Halachos on this website are based on my personal understanding of the Halachic texts quoted, and are for learning purposes only, NOT for Psak Halacha.

DO NOT rely on them for Psak Halacha L’Maaseh. If you have questions or require further source information, please email the question at Ben@HalachaForToday.comand I will try to respond as soon as I can. For a Halacha L’Ma’aseh Psak, please contact your local Orthodox Rabbi.

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ARCHIVES: HILCHOS SHEMITAH PART 1

BELOW ARE THE HALACHOS FROM THE DAILY EMAILS THAT WERE SENT OUT TO THE “HALACHA FOR TODAY” DAILY EMAIL LIST, INCLUDING THE DATES ON WHICH THEY WERE SENT, EXACTLY AS THEY WERE SENT.

Halachos for Sunday, October 19, 2014

 

1) As we are currently in a Shmitah year, we will begin discussing some pertinent and practical Halachos of Shmitah. This  subject is extremely lengthy, and often complicated, and thus we will endeavor to touch on a lot of it briefly, and only elaborate on those Halachos that are applicable to the larger general public and omit many of the details that only apply to those who own and/or work on fields in Eretz Yisroel.


 

By no means will we covering this topic exhaustively; we will simply be familiarizing ourselves with the general topics, terms and applications of Shmitah. As with everything, for Halacha L'Ma'aseh, a Rav must be consulted.


 

2) Many of the Halachos of Shmita apply only to Jews who live in Eretz Yisreol, but plenty of the Halachos apply equally to Jews everywhere as well, so this topic is important for everyone to learn and know. The Halachos of Shmita apply equally to men and women, and are also important to teach children.


 

Moreover, the learning of the Halachos of Shmitah are an opportunity for Jews living outside of Eretz Yisroel to take part in this great Mitzvah from afar, if not in actual practice.

Halachos for Monday, October 20, 2014

 

1) There are three main categories of Hilchos Shmita (also referred to as Shvi'is) and a plethora of subcategories that fall under one or more of the main categories.

 

The 3 categories are:

 

a) Shmitas Karka'os, the prohibition of working the land [of Israel]and owning trees

b) Peiros Shvi'is, the proper way to treat fruits of Shmitah with holiness

c) Shmitas Kesafim, the annulment of monetary debts and its prevention via the writing of the Pruzbul.

 

We will primarily focus on the latter two topics as they apply practically to most people.

 

2) The Torah (Shmos 23:10 and 11) commands us regarding Shmita , "V'Shesh Shanim Tizra Es Artzecha V'Achalta Es Tevuasah. V'Hashvi'is Tishmitenah U'Netashta V'Achlu Evyonei Amecha V'Yisram Tochal Chayas HaSadeh, Kein Ta'aseh L'Karmecha L'Zeisecha". 

 

Loose translation of the aforementioned Pesukim: "Six years you shall plant the [fields of the] land and eat its crops. And the seventh year you shall hold back [from work and certain eating of the fruits - Rashi] and the poor of your nation shall eat, and what is left shall be eaten by the wild animals, thus shall you do for your vineyards and your olive orchards". (This is reiterated, in more detail, in Vayikra 25:1-7)

Halachos for Tuesday, October 21, 2014

 

1) One of the explanations for the Mitzvah of Shmitah is to serve as a commemoration of Hashem's creating the world.

 

Hashem created the world in six days and on the seventh day He rested. So too, we work for six days and rest on the seventh day. In the same vein, we work the land which Hashem created for six years, and we rest from working the land for the entire seventh year. This serves as a reminder of Who created the world and who is - and always was and always will be- the Master of this earth and the entire universe. 

 

This reminds us that all fruits grow not because we work the fields, rather because Hashem wills it so. Hashem is the boss and is totally in charge, and when He commands us to not work the land that He gave us, we heed His command and let the land lay untouched for an entire year. (Sefer HaChinuch Mitzvah 84)

 

2) The Mitzvah of Shmitah serves to strengthen our Bitachon in Hashem. A person who forfeits ownership of his fields and its produce for an entire year and relies solely on Hashem for sustenance, will boost his Bitachon  and that of his family as well, for an entire lifetime. (Sefer HaChinuch ibid.)

Halachos for Wednesday, October 22, 2014

 

1) Although all Jews - men and women alike - need to be versed in the laws of Shmitah, it is especially important for those fortunate enough to be living in Eretz Yisroel to really take the time to become familiar with all the various aspects of Shmitah observance that impact daily living in Eretz Yisroel.


 

2) Not doing so is akin to living in the king's courtyard without being familiar with the rules, regulations and protocols expected of those in close proximity to the king. Being in close proximity to Hashem's courtyard (Eretz Yisroel) and not knowing the proper way to behave and act is understandably greater grounds for more severe penalties in the event of a transgression than for one who lives at a distace (outside of Eretz Yisroel). (From the introduction of Sefer Sha'arei Tzedek on Hilchos Shmitah, written by the author of Chayei Adam)

Halachos for Thursday, October 23, 2014

 

1) The number "7" has significant holiness in Judaism.


 

The "seventh" day of each week is Shabbos Kodesh, the holy Shabbos day. (See Shmos 35:2)


 

The "seventh" year is Shmitah, which is also referred to in the Posuk as a Shabbos for the land, and is thus holy. (See Vayikra 25:2)


 

Every "seventh" Shmitah year (Yovel) is also deemed by the Posuk as holy. (See Vayikra 25:12)


 

2) There are numerous other examples of "seven" being significant and holy, including the seven heavens, seven days of creation, seven branches of the Menorah in the Bais Hamikdash, seven musical notes, seven days of Sheva Brachos for a bride and groom, seven days of mourning, seven weeks of Sefiras Ha'omer ,as well as many other such items, but we will not delve into the intricate details of the importance of this number at this time, and rather keep our focus on the topic at hand, the holy seventh Shmitah year.

Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh, October 24, 2014

Double Portion L'Kavod Shabbos Kodesh

 

Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh

1) Those who observe Shmitah, especially those who do so in Eretz Yisroel, who leave their lands unguarded and allow their fruits to be eaten without protesting, are referred to as "Giborei Koach, Osei Devaro - Mighty people of strength who fulfill the word of Hashem". (Based on the Posuk in Tehilim 103:20. See Midrash Rabbah and Tanchuma beginning of Sefer Vayikra)


 

2) Many punishments, including Galus, exile, were brought upon the Jewish nation throughout history, due to their lax observance of Shmitah. Indeed, the Geulah, the final redemption with the arrival of Mashiach, will come about in large part due to the merit of properly observing Shmitah. (See Talmud Megilah 17b, Sanhedrin 39a and Shabbos 33a)

Halachos for Shabbos Kodesh

1) Many documented catastrophes in history occurred immediately following a Shmitah year in which its laws were not properly guarded and fulfilled. (See introduction to Hilchos Shmitah from the Ridbaz, quoted in Sefer Shmitah by Rav Tzvi Cohen, page 61)


 

2) Conversely, many documented miracles, including modern day ones, occurred in Moshav Komemius and other observant farms and Moshavim in Eretz Yisroel, due to their diligent guarding of the laws of Shmitah.(See Sefer Chut Shani from HaRav Nisim Karelitz Shlita, Hilchos Shmitah Perek 1:11)

Halachos for Sunday, October 26, 2014

 

1) The reward for properly guarding the Mitzvah of Shmitah is guaranteed by the Torah (Vayikra 25:20-21) where it states: "V'chi Somru Mah Nochal Bashana Hash'vi'is Hein Lo Nizra V'Lo Ne'esof Es T'vuaseinu. V'Tzivisi Es Birchasi Lachem Bashana Hashishis V'Asas Es HaTvuah L'Shlosh Shanim"

 

Loosely translated: If you will say what will we eat in the seventh year, as our crop was not planted nor reaped. I [Hashem] will command My blessing to you in the sixth year, and the crop will produce enough for three years."

 

2) "Three years", in essence, means that  crops that were harvested at the end of the sixth year will be  "blessed crops" and will last  for the duration of the sixth year, the entire seventh year, and into the beginning of the eighth year until a new crop can be harvested.

Halachos for Monday, October 27, 2014

 

1) Some Poskim (including the Sm"a, Choshen Mishpat Siman 67:2)maintain that the bracha of the "blessed crops" is only in effect at times when most of Klal Yisroel are living in Eretz Yisroel, when Shmitah was a biblical obligation, but not nowadays.

 

2) However, many Poskim (including the Chazon Ish Zatzal Hilchos Shvi'is Perek 18:4)  disagree, and maintain that the blessings of guarding Shmitah apply even nowadays when the obligations of Shmitah may only be Rabbinical in nature. 

 

However, The Chazon Ish (ibid.) writes that we shouldn't rely solely on miracles and must do our due diligence to ensure that all who observe Shemitah, and thus give up their usual livelihood,  have sustenance for their families for the duration of the Shmitah year. (See what he writes at length for more detail as to the ature, and possible limitations, of this bracha.)

 

 

Halachos for Tuesday, October 28, 2014

 

1) The main prohibitions of working fields in [and in the vicinity of] Eretz Yisroel are:

 

a) Planting seeds

b) Pruning

c) Harvesting

d) Harvesting and crushing grapes, making wine

e) Sowing and grafting trees

 

2) We will not go into details of all these chores, as those who own and work the lands in Eretz Yisroel must consult and follow the directives of their Rabbanim for all the complicated aspects of properly guarding Shmitah in the fields. Just keep them in mind while  we cover the Halachos that are more commonly applicable to all Jews, as we may touch upon some of the particulars of the aforementioned chores as well.

Halachos for Wednesday, October 29, 2014

 

1) taking fruits from any field in Eretz Yisroel, without prior permission,  is permitted for all Jews, regardless if they are rich or poor.

 

2) It is also permitted for the owner of the field to take fruits from his field for the purpose of eating and feeding his family, but not for storage for much later use or for  commerce. It must be evident from the quantity that he takes that it isn't for long-term storing or commercial purposes.

 

 

 

 

Halachos for Thursday, October 30, 2014

 

1) Produce, in regard to Shmitah, are divided into two categories:

a) Produce of the ground, e.g. vegetables, legumes and grains

b) Produce that grows on trees.

 

Though Shmitah applies to all produce of Eretz Yisroel, regardless where they grow, their Halachos are distinctly different. We will begin our discussion regarding the produce of the first category, produce of the ground.

 

2) When applying the Halachos of produce of the ground, in regard to Shmitah, there are further differentiations between a) vegetables and b) legumes and grains.

 

Vegetables that began growing in the sixth year, before the Shmitah year commenced, are permitted to eat and are not subject to the prohibition of 'Sefichim', produce that grew spontaneously (Details of which we will discuss shortly), even if most of their growth took place during Shmitah.

 

However, being that they were harvested in the Shmitah year, they are  deemed to have Kedushas Shvi'is, sanctity of Shmitah, and must be treated accordingly (Details of which we will discuss more at length well as we progress)

 

 

Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh, October 31, 2014

Double Portion L'Kavod Shabbos Kodesh


 

Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh

 

1) Grains and legumes that were planted in the sixth year and harvested in the Shmitah year, unlike vegetables, are not automatically permitted to eat, as it is dependent on how far along in their growth they reached before the onset of Shmitah.

 

2) For most grains and legumes, if they reached at least a third of their full size before the onset of Shmitah, they are not subject to the prohibition of Sefichim and have no Kedushas Shvi'is, even if they are harvested during Shmitah.

 

However, if they had not yet reached a third of their full size before the onset of Shmitah, they are to be treated as if they were planted during Shmitah, and all the prohibitions of Shmitah will apply to them, despite the fact that they were planted and started to grow in the sixth year.

 

 

 

Halachos for Shabbos Kodesh

 

1) Certain grains/legumes, such as rice, millet, quinoa, sesame, poppy and similar items, are more stringent, and if any part of them grew during the Shmitah year, even if more than a third of its full size was reached beforehand, it is still subject to Kedushas Shvi'is, being treated with the sanctity of Shmitah. They are not, however subject to the prohibition of Sefichim.

 

2) However, if they have reached their full size in the sixth year, and were only harvested in the Shmitah year (i.e. and had no additional benefit from still being in the ground during Shmitah) they are considered produce of the sixth year and have no sanctity of Shvi'is.

 

 

Halachos for Sunday, November 2, 2014

 

1) Vegetables, grains and legumes that were unlawfully planted and harvested by a Jew during Shmitah may not be eaten and must be treated with sanctity.

 

This applies even if the one who did the planting is not the owner of the field, and even if the field is owned by a non-Jew.

 

2) If the illicitly planted produce was only  harvested after Shmitah, in the eighth year, it is still prohibited to eat of it until new produce of that kind, which was legitimately planted in the eighth year, grows or until Chanukah (whichever comes first).

 

Halachos for Monday, November 3, 2014

 

1)  Produce which grew of its  own accord  during Shmitah, via seeds which were not intentionally planted, rather they fell there on their own, is biblically permitted to eat.

 

2) However, the Rabbis forbade such produce from being eaten during Shemitah, lest some unscrupulous people would intentionally plant produce and claim that it grew on its own. The exception to this ban is for produce that is usual to grow on its own, or if it grew in such a place or such a manner that it is plainly evident that it wasn't intentionally planted.

 

The aforementioned  rabbinical prohibition is referred to as "Isur Sefichin" (See Vayikra 25:5. Rashi to Shabbos 2b, based on a Posuk in Shmuel 1, Perek 2:36, translates this word as Tafel, secondary)

 

 

 

Halachos for Tuesday, November 4, 2014

 

1) Sefichim that were harvested during Shmitah are forbidden to be eaten, ever. Sefichim that were not harvested until the eighth year, in certain cases, after a certain amount of time, they  will be permitted to eat. (We will discuss this more in detail in the future when we discuss the halachos of the eight year)

 

2) During Shmitah, vegetables may only be bought from a trustworthy source, with proper certification that the produce being sold does not originate in Eretz Yisroel. It is forbidden to buy vegetables from a regular, non certified establishment, even if that particular vegetable is commonly available from outside of Eretz Yisroel, and it is extremely likely to assume that this stock is also from out of Eretz Yisroel,  as during Shmitah such an assumption is not valid.(unlike in the eighth year, when it is indeed permitted to buy vegetables immediately after Rosh Hashana, if that particular vegetable can safely be assumed to be from outside of Eretz Yisroel, even without express ceertification.)

 

 

 

 

Halachos for Wednesday, November 5, 2014

 

1) The prohibition of Sefichim is in effect for a period into the eight year, until it can be ascertained that a new crop, which was planted after Shmitah, is available. In Eretz Yisroel it is common for the Kashrus agencies to publish lists with the pertinent information for each species and the dates after which it can surely be assumed that it is a post-Shmitah crop.

 

2) When purchasing canned or frozen [Israeli] vegetables, which have a much longer shelf life than fresh produce, it is important to ascertain their harvest time, lest they be from Shmitah. This can often be known via the production stamp on the side of the package, or by calling the company and/or Kashrus agency to find out.

 

 

 

Halachos for Thursday, November 6, 2014

 

1) It is forbidden to feed Sefichim of Shvi'is to a non-Jew. Some Poskim allow selling it to a non-Jew, while others forbid that as well.

 

2) Juices that come out of Sefichim, retain all the halachos of the Sefichim themselves, both in regard to their permissibility to eat as well as in regard to treating it with kedushas Shvi'is, the sanctity of Shmitah.

 

 

 

Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh, November 7 , 2014

Double Portion L'kavod Shabbos Kodesh


 

Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh

 

1)  If prohibited Shmitah food, including Sefichim, were cooked in a pot, the pot requires Koshering. If the pot was used again within 24 hours to cook other food, that food becomes prohibited to eat as well, unless there was 60 times the amount of the food than there was prohibited Shmitah food.

 

2) After a twenty four hour period passes from when the prohibited food was cooked in the pot, other food that was cooked in the pot is acceptable to eat B'dieved.

 

Halachos for Shabbos Kodesh

 

1) A cold, dry sharp food which was placed in a pot or other utensil that absorbed prohibited Shmitah food in it, does not become prohibited to eat.

 

2) However,  sharp wet food that was put into a pot or utensil that absorbed prohibited Shmitah food, becomes prohibited to eat.

 

Likewise, a sharp food that was cut with a knife that absorbed prohibited Shmitah food, becomes prohibited to eat.

 

Halachos for Sunday , November 9 , 2014

1) It is prohibited to feed Sefichim to children, even if they are younger than the age of Chinuch, and even if they are infants. 

 

Similarly, it is prohibited to tell them to go take Sefichim on their own.

 

2) If a parent sees a young child eating Sefichim (which they took on their own) they are obligated to intervene and make them stop eating it.

 

 

Halachos for Monday , November 10 , 2014

1) As we mentioned earlier, the prohibition of Sefichim only applies to items that could have been planted during Shmita, and thus even though these particular ones grew on their own, we prohibit all of that species so that unscrupulous people won't plant in Shmitah and claim it grew on its own.

 

2)  The following items are just a few examples of some of the exceptions, and are not subject to the prohibition of Sefichim:

 

*  Fruit that grows on trees

 

* Produce that grew on a non-Jew's field (which we will discuss more about as we progress)

 

* Items that are not usually planted, due their minimal value, including items that normally grow wildly and aren't commonly planted

 

* Items which grow in a totally plowed field, where the owner prefers to uproot all vegetation.

 

* Vegetation that grows in a vineyard

 

* Items that only grow on their own and are not able to be planted

 

* Items that grow inside a house

 

* Items that grow on a rooftop, where the owner has no interest in  anything taking root there.

 

There are other exceptions to the prohibition of Sefichim, but for practical purposes, when it comes to purchasing Israeli produce, only items that have a reliable certification that all the halachos of Shmitah were followed, should be consumed during Shemitah.

 

 

 

 

Halachos for Tuesday , November 11 , 2014

1) One who sees prohibited Sefichim that are growing on his property, has a Mitzvah to  uproot them, so nobody should accuse him of planning to eat them.

 

2) The above is only true once the vegetation has reached its full growth, and not earlier on when it has still not  reached its full size 

 

 

 

 

Halachos for Wednesday , November 12 , 2014

1) When uprooting prohibited Sefichim, it is forbidden to destroy them deliberately, rather they should be uprooted and left there on the ground to decompose on their own.

 

2) if, however, he is worried that others will come and take the Sefichim and eat them, he may bury them so that they decompose out of sight. 

 

Some authorities allow their deliberate destruction, in this case, as to assure that nobody eats them.

 

 

 

 

Halachos for Thursday , November 13 , 2014

1) It is prohibited, during the seventh year,  to bring animals to where the prohibited Sefichim are growing for the express purpose of having them eat the Sefichim. 

 

Once the eight year arrives, it is indeed permitted to bring animals to the area so that they will eat any forbidden Sefichim.

 

2) If by uprooting the Sefichim it will cause and/or assist  other Sefichim to grow in their stead, it should not be uprooted, and rather be left alone.

 

 

 

 

Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh , November 14 , 2014

Double Portion L'Kavod Shabbos Kodesh

 

Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh

 

1)  Fruits of the tree that reached a certain point in their development (Halachically referred to as "Chanata", which is a dispute amongst the Rishonim exactly what that point is; either the beginning of the emergence of the fruit from its blossoms or according to some a while later, when it is almost ripe enough to eat) between Rosh Hashana of Shmitah and Rosh Hashana of the eight year, is deemed Peiros Shvi'is, fruits of Shmitah.

 

 

2) These fruits must be treated with the sanctity of Shmitah, even if they were first cut off the tree after the beginning of the eight year.

 

They may be eaten and there is no prohibition of Sefichim when it comes to fruit of trees. They are also exempt from having to separate  Terumah and Ma'aser.

 

 

 

Halachos for Shabbos Kodesh

 

1)  Fruits of the tree that reached Chanata before Rosh hashana of Shemitah,  even if they finished developing during Shmitah, and even if it wasn't cut off the tree until during Shmitah, do not have sanctity of Shvi'is and are obligated in the separation of Terumah and Ma'aser.

 

 

2) Some authorities are stringent in regard to treating fruits with the sanctity of Shvi'is, even for fruits that reached the stage of Chanata from Rosh Hashana of the eighth year until Tu B'Shvat of the eighth year.

 

 

 

Halachos for Sunday , November 16 , 2014

1)  There are a few fruits which are exceptions to the general rule of other fruits of the tree, and the determination of when they become subject to the sanctity of Shvi'is is not based on Chanata.

 

2) One of those fruits is the Esrog, where it is dependent on when the Esrog was cut off the tree, not when it reached a certain point of its development while still on the tree, to determine if it is subject to the laws of Shmitah and Terumah and Ma'aser. (We will not delve into the details of this now; perhaps at a later point we will elaborate more on Esrogim and Shmitah)

 

Another exception to the Chanata rule is for olives and grapes, where their development is determined by when they reach a third of their full size, and not by the Chanata stage.

 

 

Halachos for Monday , November 17 , 2014

1) Fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes that  grew outside of Eretz Yisroel have no sanctity of Shvi'is and there are no limitations as to their consumption, disposal, commerce or anything else, when they remain outside of Eretz Yisroel.

 

2)Produce from outside of Eretz Yisroel that is brought into Eretz Yisroel and it is plainly evident that they are imported, may be sold, bought, consumed and treated without any concern for the limitations of Shemitah.

 

 

 

Halachos for Tuesday , November 18 , 2014

1) Produce from outside of Eretz Yisroel that looks identical to other such produce that grows in Eretz Yisroel, is subject to the limitations of how they may be bought and sold, similar to the laws that apply to the produce of Eretz Yisroel (which we will discuss in the future). 

 

The reason for this is due to Maris Ayin, as people will assume they are from Eretz Yisroel and accuse you of not  properly treating Shmitah produce.

 

2) However, they are not subject to being treated with the sanctity of Shvi'is and not subject to the limitations of how they may be treated, disposed of and used, as produce of Shmitah are.

 

 

 

Halachos for Wednesday , November 19 , 2014

1) If the majority of a specific item that is sold across Eretz Yisroel during Shmitah is imported from outside of Eretz Yisroel, that is enough to be considered evident that it isn't from Eretz Yisroel, and  there are no limitations or restrictions placed on the imported items.

 

2)However, if the majority of any one item is known to originate from within the holy land, that is enough to impose limitations and restrictions on that species, even on those that originate from outside of Eretz Yisroel.

 

 

 

Halachos for Thursday , November 20 , 2014

1) If a fruit is packaged in a packaging that makes it plainly evident that originates from outside of Eretz Yisroel, even if there is no  difference in the actual fruit itself, according to some Poskim that may be enough to not make it subject to any limitations in its sale during Shemitah.

 

2) Even if most of the people in a city do not recognize a certain fruit to know if it originated from within or from without of Eretz Yisroel, if experts o do recognize that this fruit originates from Chutz L'Aretz, it suffices and it may be bought and sold without any limitations.

 

 

 

Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh , November 21 , 2014

Double Portion L'Kavod Shabbos Kodesh

 

 

Halachos for Erev Shabbos Kodesh

1) If there is doubt about a fruit whether it originates in Eretz Yisroel or has been imported from  outside of Eretz Yisroel, we look at the majority of that fruit. If the majority of that type of fruit is from Eretz Yisroel, we treat the fruit in doubt with all the limitations and sanctity of Israeli fruit.

 

2) If the majority of that type of fruit is imported, we can assume that the fruit in doubt is imported as well and treat it as such, without ay limitations.


 

 

Halachos for Shabbos Kodesh

 

1) There is a dispute amongst the Poskim (that dates back to the  Bais Yosef and the Mabit) if fruits that grew in Eretz Yisroel in a land owned by non-Jews have sanctity of Shvi'is or not.

 

Many Poskim rule like the Bais Yosef that they do not, and indeed most Sephardim and even many Ashkenazim in Yerushalayim are lenient with these fruits.

 

2) The Chazon Ish Zatzal, however, strongly apposed this leniency and ruled like the Mabit that indeed they do have the sanctity of Shvi'is.

 

Obviously, every individual must consult their Rav for a practical ruling.

 

 

 

This concludes Part 1 of Hilchos Shmitah. Next week, B'Ezras Hashem,  we will begin reviewing some of the relevant Halachos of Chanukah. We will return to Halachos of Shmitah at a later date.