For anyone who is interested in the laws of the Sabbatical year which we are presently observing in Israel. This is an excellent and very comprehensive summary of the laws. It was written by a great scholar from my community, Givat Zeev, HaGaon R' Chaim Meir Horowitz, Shlit"a. It was translated into English by his student, Rabbi Dovid Preil.
HG"R Horowitz Shlit"a is available to answer any questions by telephone at 054-848-5090.
The Halachos of Sheviis
(summarized by HaGaon R' Chaim Meir Horowitz Shlit"a)
(translated into English by Dovid Preil)
1. The only מלאכות that are assur מדאורייתא are planting, pruning (according to most opinions these issurim only apply to grapevines), and harvesting wheat and grapes. These מלאכות are assur even if refraining from them will cause a great loss and even if the plant will die. All other מלאכות are only assur מדרבנן and are may be performed if a loss is imminent.
2. A "loss" is defined as the death of the tree, damage which will cost a significant amount of money to repair after shemitah, damage which will result in losing the majority of the fruits of the tree, and, according to some, even tangible damage, be it quantitative or qualitative. Additionally, some even allow מלאכה if something planted to look nice will lose it's aesthetic value irreversibly.
3. It should be stressed that even the מלאכות which are assur מדרבנן are only mutar to prevent a loss and not to accelerate or enhance the growth of the plant. This is true in all forms of plants (flowers, bushes, trees and fruit trees).
4. Due to the fact that the מלאכות that are assur in the shemitta year are many and our space is limited, we will focus on the ones that are most common.
5. Methods of watering: There are two methods of watering: by hand (manually) and automatically. Fundamentally, there are many who allow automatic sprinkler systems that are set up before the start of the shemittah year. This is because no מלאכה is being done during the shemittah year. Practically, it is very difficult to rely on this option. This is because it is almost inevitable that some sort of manual assistance will be needed in the course of the year. For example: clogged pipes need to be cleaned, the system needs to be turned off for the winter and restarted in the spring, etc.. For this reason, it is preferable to water manually.
6. Determining damage: Plants, bushes or non-fruit bearing trees that begin to dry out (i.e. color changes to greenish-brown, start to "slouch," or the leaves are droopy) can be watered. These indications should be checked in the late afternoon and evening, not in the middle of the day when the heat is most intense.
7. Fruit bearing trees: A gardener should be consulted as to how often fruit bearing trees need to be watered and how much water is needed. (HG"R Reichenberg Shlit"a: if the gardener is not a שומר תורה ומצוות, one should reduce the amount of water recommended by 25%.)
8. Safek: If one is unsure if refraining from watering the tree or bush will cause damage to the tree, fruits or bush, a religious gardener should be consulted.
9. If one sees that after a given period of time the tree begins to show signs of damage, one can water the tree at that interval regularly.
10. Intermingled plants: If plants that need water are near or intermingled with plants that don't need water, one is allowed to water the plants that need water and if some waterfalls on the plants that do not need water, it is okay. One is not allowed to water them directly.
11. If one setup an automatic sprinkler system and only some of the plants need water it is only mutar if the majority of the plants need the water at the same time. Even if all the plants need water but their needs vary, one cannot engage the automatic system unless they close the openings in such a way that plants will only receive water when they need. In this situation, it is preferable to water by hand.
12. Potted plants: Even though plants in pots with a hole are usually considered planted in the ground, one can be lenient and water them at intervals slightly longer than recommended by the nursery. This is because the amount of water they can draw of the ground is limited and will die faster than a plant planted directly in the ground.
13. Air conditioner drain pipe: If one hasn't purposely positioned the drain pipe of an air conditioner to water his plants, one can use an air conditioner. Similarly, one can wash off their mirpeset even though the water runs into the garden, provided one doesn't intend to water his garden. (HG"R Reichenberg Shlit"a)
14. Sponga water: One is not allowed to push the "sponge water" from the house into the garden. If the water is soapy it is mutar because it is clear that the intent is not to water the garden.
15. Generally speaking, it is not necessary to fertilize a garden more than once a year and should be done before the shemittah year. In the event that one needs to fertilize during the shemiitah year, a gardener who is a ירא שמים should be consulted.
16. Plants that are sick and at risk of dying or even tangibly damaged may be sprayed with insecticide according to the need. Some prefer that one use an insecticide that works by way of the roots or traps. (HG"R Reichenberg Shlit"a)
17. It is mutar to remove weeds or grass which threaten to kill or significantly damage plants or bushes. It is mutar to remove them with a hoe or chemicals. If the weed or grass is edible for animals, it is assur to kill them with chemicals.
18. In the event that other plants are not at risk, if one's intent is not to aid in the growth of the other plants, but rather to prevent fires or to enhance the appearance of the garden it is mutar to cut the weeds at a higher point than one would have otherwise, in a way that is clear that the intent is not to aid the growth of the other plants. It is also mutar to destroy in an indirect manner, such as to cover them with plastic covers so that they, eventually, choke.
19. Empty areas: areas that are generally not planted, but kept clear of weeds and growth to prevent snakes from nesting or for general cleanliness, are allowed to be kept clear of weeds. It is mutar to cut the stems but not to uproot the root.
20. To prevent damage: It is mutar to prune branches to prevent damage (i.e. to telephone wires, etc.) but care should be taken to only cut what is necessary and no more.
21. In general, if one refrains from hoeing a garden for one year it will not cause irreversible damage. In the event that one's garden develops cracks, or one knows that such cracks are likely to develop, there may be a risk to the plants and one should consult a gardener who is a ירא שמים. (HG"R Reichenberg Shlit"a)
22. Pruning a grape vine is categorically assur. If a regular tree stands to be damaged if not pruned (i.e. a branch in infected or wormy) it is mutar to remove it but, because some are of the opinion that it is אסור מדאורייתא to prune any kind of tree, one should remove the branch by hand or with tongs.
23. If one has a hedge, and it is weak and/or thin, it is only mutar to prune the branches if they will cause damage to the rest of the hedge. Even if one's intent is only to beautify the hedge it is assur because it is inevitable that the pruning will cause the rest of the hedge to grow better. If the hedge is full, some allow one to prune even if the removed branches won't damage the rest of the hedge, provided that one's intention is not to assist the growth of the rest of the hedge.
24. If the branches of the hedge are obstructing a walkway, it is mutar to cut them.
25. Mowing a lawn: All of the previous halachos apply to mowing one's lawn. Some say that if the lawn is overgrown that it is mutar to mow it, and it is preferable to cut the stalks than to uproot the grass. (HG"R Reichenberg Shlit"a)
26. Cutting flowers: It is mutar to cut flowers and fragrant bushes, provided the intent is not to cause additional growth. It is preferable to cut with a shinui, such as cutting from the middle of the stalk.
27. Cutting for סכך: It is mutar to cut branches from a non-fruit bearing tree for סכך or to clear a path. They should be cut by non-professionals. If professionals are employed, they should cut with a shinui, such as cutting only from one side of the tree or leaving a few branches protruding.
28. Bracing branches: It is mutar to brace a broken branch provided that it is still attached. Once the branch has separated, it is assur to reattach it. It is mutar to brace the branch of a fruit bearing tree that is sagging and may snap.
29. Saplings: It is mutar to brace a sapling if not doing so will cause irreversible damage.
30. Vines: It is mutar to tie vines and guide their growth, but if the vine is on the ground it is assur to guide it up because this will cause it to be more exposed to sunlight. (HG"R Reichenberg Shlit"a)
31. It is assur to clean a yard to accommodate a garden. Similarly, it is assur to level dirt, add dirt or spread dirt in preparation for a garden. It is also assur to clear away rubbish from around a building because these areas are commonly used for a garden. If one's intent is solely to clean up the area, it is mutar to clear away most of the rubbish and leave the bottom-most layer.
32. It is mutar to clear garbage from a garden in a normal manner because the intent is clearly not to plant a garden.
33. Filling a hole: It is mutar to fill a hole in one's garden provided that the intent is not to plant, and the hole must be filled with a material not suitable for planting (i.e. sand), on top of that dirt and the uppermost tefach should be sand or gravel.
34. Jointly owned: A garden owned by all the residents of a building in which some of the residents are not שומרי תורה ומצוות should be made hefker before shmittah. Everyone whose name the property is registered in should be mafkir it. If the only מלאכות being done are מדרבנן, there is a machlokes haposkim if the owners must be mafkir their portion.
35. It is assur to pay for the upkeep of such a garden. In the event that one will be taken to court, one can pay and clarify that the money given is intended only for cleaning the garden and מלאכות that are mutar.
36. A pot, even one without a hole, if placed outside (under the sky), is subject to all the laws of shemitah.
37. Similarly, a pot built into a structure, even if inside, is subject to all the laws of shemittah.
38. A pot in an apartment: If a pot is located on the bottom floor of an apartment building (underneath the floor is dirt, not a parking lot) and the pot has a hole, it is like it is outside. If it does not have a hole, it is like it is inside. If the pot is on a higher level, if it doesn't have a hole it is certainly mutar to do מלאכה to the plant in the pot. If it has a hole, there is a machlokes as to whether or not one can do מלאכה with the plant in the pot.
39. Size of the hole: The hole can be as little as one millimeter (according to the most stringent opinions) and as large as 2.5 centimeters (according to the most lenient opinions).
40. Hole in the side: If the hole is in the side of pot but still faces the ground, the pot is considered having a hole.
41. Plastic containers: If the plant is in a plastic container and the plastic is soft such that the item growing inside will eventually tear through, it is considered in the ground and subject to the laws of shmittah. If the plastic is hard or the roots are soft, the plant is considered not in the ground. If the plant is outside, the strength of the container does not matter.
42. Earthenware vessels: Earthenware vessels are always considered as having a hole.
43. A pot on a platform of metal or hard plastic (such as a plate or a table) is considered as not have a hole, unless it is outside.
44. If there are branches which protrude beyond the confines of the pot and are not separated from the floor by the table, the pot is considered as having a hole.
45. Air space is does not serve as a barrier. Therefore, a hanging pot with leaves falling over the sides is considered as having a hole.
46. A very large pot: Some poskim are of the opinion that a pot which contains more than 650 liters is considered "ground" and all the rules of shemittah apply regardless of where it is.
47. It is mutar to seal a hole in a pot.
48. It is assur to open a hole in a pot, because this is considered a form of planting. Similarly, it is assur to remove the pot from a table to the ground or bring it outside.
49. Similarly, it is assur to lower a hanging pot with a hole onto the ground of a garden as this increases its nourishment from the ground.
50. A pot with a hole in an apartment on a table, even though some are of the opinion that the floor does not act as a partition from the ground, nevertheless, it is mutar to place the pot on the floor to clean the house. Others assur. According to everyone it is mutar to move a pot which is on the floor and even to lower a hanging pot and even to move a pot from one table to another even though it passes over the floor.
51. Taking a plant home: Some say it is mutar to transport a plant in a pot with a hole from the store to a car, even though when it leaves the store it is over the ground, and others are machmir unless there is a metal or plastic barrier between the pot and the ground.
52. Some say it is assur to remove the roof from over a pot because it aids in the growth of the plant. If it is clear that this is not the intent (i.e. it is on a mirpeset which is used as a succah), it is mutar.
53. Succos: Succos poses a unique problem. If someone has plants on an open mirpeset, and they build a succah over the plants, it is assur to remove the סכך because it causes additional sunlight to reach the plants. To avoid this problem, one should place all the plants in one corner of the succah and space the סכך in that corner in a manner that allows sunlight to come in. Alternatively, one can move them to an area of the mirpeset or yard which is not going to be covered by the סכך and move them back after Succos. (HG"R Reichenberg Shlit"a) There are those who allow one to dismantle the succah even if there are plants inside, because it is clear that the intent is not to allow more sunlight to reach the plants. If one has a removable roof, it is mutar to remove the roof to place the סכך and remove the סכך to replace the roof.
There is a machlokes Tana'im if the issur of ספיחין (lit. aftergrowth) is מדאורייתא or מדרבנן. The Rambam writes (Shmita 4:2) "there is an issur מדרבנן to eat ספיחין. And why did they make this גזירה? Because of the sinners who would plants and claim that the crops grew on their own therefore they made to assur to eat anything that grows in שביעית." There is a machlokes rishonim as to exactly which crops are subject to this גזירה. Practically, the חזו"א paskens like the ר"ש that as long as the growth began in the sixth year, even if most of the growth occurred in the seventh year, the issur of ספיחין does not apply.
54. Grains (wheat, barley, oats, rye and spelt) and legumes (i.e. beans, peas, sunflower seeds) that reach one third of their growth in the sixth year are not subject to the issur of ספיחין.
55. Vegetables that emerged from the ground in the sixth year are not subject to the issur of ספיחין.
56. Even according to the opinion that the laws of שמיטה apply to land owned by non-Jews, the issur of ספיחין does not, even if the non-Jew planted during the שמיטה year.
57. ספיחין that grow in a field that is not normally planted due to weakness of the soil or its distance from the city is not subject to the issur of ספיחין. If it is not planted because it is ownerless, it is subject to the issur of ספיחין.
58. ספיחין in a house are mutar. If the house has a retractable roof (i.e. a mirpeset) the issur of ספיחין applies.
59. Plants in a pot without a hole are not included in the issur of ספיחין. If the pot has a hole, it is a machlokes.
60. The issur of ספיחין applies even to food fit for animals, but not to plants which don't have קדושת שביעית (i.e. flax, flowers, cotton etc.).
61. There is a mitzvah to uproot ספיחין that grow in one's field. Some explain this is so that others will not suspect one planted them during שמיטה. Other's explain this is so that others will not suspect that one is planning to eat them. The difference between these opinions would be if something was already almost fully grown at the onset of the שמיטה year, as there is no possibility to suspect that it was planted during שמיטה. When one uproots the ספיחין one cannot destroy them because they have קדושת שביעית. They should be uprooted and left in their place to decompose naturally.
62. The issur of ספיחין only applies to plants which are planted yearly (i.e. vegetables) but not ones that remain from year to year (trees and bushes).
63. Bananas are not subject to the issur of ספיחין.
64. ספיחין that are assur are assur in all forms of use. Some say that ספיחין that are fit for human consumption are allowed to be used for general benefit (provided the benefit is permitted during שמיטה).
65. One is not allowed to feed an animal ספיחין, or even to lead on animal to ספיחין to eat. One does not have to remove an animal that is eating ספיחין of it's own volition.
66. If ספיחין are left until after שמיטה, and enough time has passed that they could have grown in the eighth year, the ספיחין are mutar. (For example, if tomatoes grew in שמיטה, and the normal time it takes for a tomato to grow is three weeks, one may eat these tomatoes starting the 21st of תשרי of the eighth year.)
67. Starting at Chanukah of the eighth year, all ספיחין are mutar, even those that grew during שמיטה.
Hefker of the Fruits and Land
(translator's note: the word "fruit" includes fruits and vegetables).
There is a machlokes as to the status of fruits that grew on the land owned by a non-Jew during the שמיטה year. Many are lenient and many are machmir. The practise in Yerushalayim, established many years ago, is to be lenient. The חזו"א was machmir and even held that one may not rely on the lenient position as a צירוף להקל. Recently, many more have taken upon themselves to follow the position of the חזו"א. For those who hold like the חזו"א, all the following laws apply to יבול נכרי.
68. There is a machlokes as to whether the fruit in the שמיטה year becomes hefker automatically or if there is a mitzvah to be mafkir them. The פאת השולחן and מנחת חינוך both write that one should be mafkir the fruits in front of three people (in accordance with the regular rules of hefker). If one is mafkir in front of one person, it is sufficient בדיעבד, in accordance with the ruling of the משנה ברורה.
69. One who does not want to leave his field or garden open because he is concerned that non-Jews will eat the fruits is allowed to lock the gate and leave a notice that the fruit is hefker and that the key is available at a specific nearby location.
70. Similarly, if one is concerned that allowing free access to the fruits will cause damage to the trees, or if the only entrance to one's garden is through one's home, he can lock the entrance and inform anyone who wants to come in how to access the garden or field.
In the beginning of the seventh perek of מסכת שביעית the mishna states: "An important rule of שביעית: anything which is edible to people or animals or is used as a dye and will not survive the winter attached to the ground, both it and money exchanged for it are subject to the laws of שמיטה and ביעור." The laws of שמיטה apply to food items, items whose normal method of benefiting from them is allowed in שמיטה and items whose benefit and destruction are realized simultaneously.
71. All food items have קדושת שביעית.
72. Additionally, spices and dyes as well as materials which are used for lighting have קדושת שביעית.
73. Flowers: Flowers that don't have a fragrance do not have קדושת שביעית. Flowers that have a fragrance are the subject of a dispute. Some say that since they are used for הנאה that they have קדושת שביעית, and others say that since the primary purpose is for their pleasant appearance they do not have קדושת שביעית.
74. Lulav: Some say that since it can be used as a broom a lulav has קדושת שביעית, and others say that since today no one uses a lulav as a broom it does not have קדושת שביעית.
75. Hadasim: If they were picked for fragrance, they have קדושת שביעית. If they were picked for the mitzvah, one can be lenient. If, after, one used them for the mitzva one decided to use them for their fragrance, it is unclear if they have קדושת שביעית.
76. Plants used only for medicinal purposes do not have קדושת שביעית. Some say that vitamins can have קדושת שביעית.
77. Foods that are eaten by a small minority of people (i.e. naturists, people with specific health needs) do not have קדושת שביעית. Some are machmir.
78. Tobacco and cigarettes: Those who do not smoke on יום טוב because they consider smoking to be a form of הנאה which is not universal do not need to treat tobacco with קדושת שביעית. Those who are lenient (שלא כדין) and smoke on יום טוב, should treat tobacco and cigarettes as having קדושת שביעית, because they are assuming that smoking is a universal הנאה.
79. Smelling tobacco is a more universal הנאה than smoking and such tobacco should be treated with קדושת שביעית.
80. Wood: Wood set aside to be burned for light has קדושת שביעית. Wood set aside to be burned for cooking does not have קדושת שביעית. The חזו"א writes that wood set aside for construction or to craft furniture does not have קדושת שביעית.
81. Mushrooms, because they do not take root, do not have קדושת שביעית.
82. Unripe fruit: Fruits have קדושת שביעית once the outer flower falls away and the fruit is distinguishable, even before it is ripe.
83. Flavored drinks: If the drink contains pieces of the fruit the entire drink has קדושת שביעית. If the drink only has flavor from the fruit it does not have קדושת שביעית.
Transacting: Purchasing and Selling Fruit of שמיטה
84. It is assur to sell פירות שביעית. Practically, it is even assur to purchase a small amount with the intent to sell it for a profit. It is mutar to harvest a small amount to sell.
85. There is a machlokes as to whether or not the purchaser is in violation of the issur to transact business with פירות שביעית, but according to everyone he is in violation of לפני עיור לא תתן מכשול.
86. Even according to the חזו"א, that fruit from non-Jews has קדושת שביעית, it is mutar to purchase פירות שביעית from non-Jews. This is because non-Jews are not commanded to keep the mitzvos of שמיטה, and, therefore, there is no issur of לפני עיור.
87. One who personally follows the חזו"א (that fruit from non-Jews has קדושת שביעית) may purchase fruits from a vendor who is relying on the opinion that they don't have קדושת שביעית. He is not in violation of לפני עיור because the vendor is relying on a legitimate halachic opinion. Additionally, if one were to not purchase from him someone else would, rendering the situation one of חד עברא דנהרא.
88. הבלעה: One method used to purchase פירות שביעית is הבלעה, literally: swallowing. This means that one subsumes the payment for the פירות שביעית in the value of another item. For example: instead of purchasing a bisli and bag of apples each at its regular cost, one purchases the bisli for 30 NIS and the apples are given for free. Some hold this solves the problem of transacting with פירות שביעית. Some hold that this does not help. בע"ה we will elaborate shortly (101).
89. Buying on credit does not resolve the issur of transacting with פירות שביעית.
90. Even in situations in which it is mutar to sell פירות שביעית, it is assur to measure or weigh them or even to use a container if it's volume is known to the seller.
91. It is assur to sell items in regular bundles or the normal container they are sold in regularly.
92. Produce from חו"ל: Produce from חו"ל which is indistinguishable from produce from א"י may not be sold by weight or volume. If most of such produce comes from חו"ל, or if the produce is distinguishable (even if only by experts) one may sell it regularly.
Money of שביעית
93. Money given in exchange for פירות שביעית have קדושת שביעית and can only be used to purchase items which are edible. The produce retains its own קדושת שביעית.
94. If one purchased non-edible items with money that had קדושת שביעית, one should seek to undo the purchase. If this is not practical, one must use regular money to purchase the equivalent of the items which were purchased and treat them with קדושת שביעית. Additionally, some even assur any benefit from the inedible item.
95. When one uses the money with קדושת שביעית to purchase non-שמיטה food, the קדושת שביעית is transferred from the money to the food.
96. When one uses the money with קדושת שביעית to purchase שמיטה food, the קדושת שביעית does not leave the money.
97. If one purchases produce that has קדושת שביעית from a non-Jew, it is a machlokes as to whether or not the money becomes קדוש with קדושת שביעית.
98. It is assur to give money which has קדושת שביעית to someone who does not keep שמיטה. Similarly, one cannot buy produce from someone who does not keep שמיטה. If one knows that the produce was obtained from an ownerless field, one can purchase the monetary equivalent of three meals worth. If the produce was obtained from guarded field, it is assur to purchase any amount.
99. Purchasing with credit: If one purchases on credit (check or credit card), the money does not receive קדושת שביעית.
100. If the vendor does not trust the purchaser and insists on being paid immediately, the money has קדושת שביעית even if the produce was taken before the money was given.
101. If one purchases with הבלעה (for an explanation of הבלעה see 88), the money does not obtain קדושת שביעית.
102. One cannot subsume the purchase onto an item which is usually given for free (such as the plastic bags provided at the check-out counter).
103. It is assur to repay a debt or to pay for services rendered with money or produce which have קדושת שביעית. This is true even if the debt is owed for the purchase of פירות שביעית.
104. If one purchases in a store that is not makpid on קדושת שביעית, and one knows that the store has money which has קדושת שביעית, one must assume that any change he receives has קדושת שביעית. The קדושת שביעית from the money can be transferred onto food which does not have קדושת שביעית, or the money can be used to purchase edible items. If there is a doubt as to whether or not the money has קדושת שביעית, one can follow the majority of the money in the store.
105. In the aforementioned situation some allow one to transfer the value onto a שווה פרוטה even if the value with the קדושת שביעית is worth much more. This does not work after the time of ביעור.
106. HG"R Sh"Z Aurbach ZT"L presented the following option: inform the vendor that the קדושה in the change is to be transferred onto the money that he was paid with. There is no problem of giving money with קדושת שביעית to one who doesn't keep שמיטה, because the money was his from the outset.
107. It is assur מדרבנן to purchase any agricultural product from one who isn't makpid on הלכות שביעית. However, it is mutar to purchase from them items from the sixth year or from חו"ל.
Damaging (directly and indirectly) פירות שביעית
108. It is assur to damage פירות שביעית. This applies to anything which has קדושת שביעית (even animal food, plants used for fragrance, etc.). Throwing food in the garbage can is considered causing direct damage because once the food is placed in the garbage no one will eat it.
109. It is assur to mix medicines into wine that has קדושת שביעית. Even if the wine is still drinkable, if the medicine makes it less palatable, it is assur.
110. Some hold that it is assur to mix פירות שביעית with regular produce to be מבטל them. This is because they become usable to be sold so the act of mixing is considering part of transacting with פירות שביעית. Others are matir, if the intent is to eat them.
111. It is assur to ruin food with קדושת שביעית even if it is being used to enhance another food. For example: it is assur to clean lettuce with vinegar that has קדושת שביעית.
112. It is assur to extinguish the havdalah candle in wine with קדושת שביעית. Similarly, one cannot place the wine in his eyes or pockets, nor can one remove drops from a cup of wine with קדושת שביעית when mentioning the עשר מכות on ליל פסח. If one is using wine with קדושת שביעית for kiddush or havdalah, one should place a clean tray under the cup to catch any wine that falls.
113. Some say that it is assur to coat a pan with oil that has קדושת שביעית if the intent is to prevent the food from sticking to the pan. If the intent is to enhance the food, it is mutar.
114. There is a machlokes as to whether or not one may (indirectly) cause damage to food that has קדושת שביעית. Even according to the opinions that are lenient, there are those who say that placing food directly in the sun is considered direct damage and is assur. There is more room to be lenient to place food in a place which is currently in the shade and only later will be in the sun. If food is in a situation that will cause it to be ruined, there is no obligation to save it.
115. It is mutar to cut open a fruit with the intent to eat only half. Even Though this will cause the leftover part to rot faster, it is considered damage that comes about through eating.
116. Children: It is mutar to give a child פירות שביעית provided that the child knows how to eat most of the food and will only ruin a small amount. If one's child is ruining פירות שביעית one should stop them.
117. If one has food that has קדושת שביעית that will not be eaten, there are those that assur causing damage. Rather, one should leave them and allow them to decay on their own. HG"R Y. S. Elyashiv ZT"L held that it is mutar to cause them to be ruined, due to the fact that there are opinions that causative damage is always mutar.
118. The חזו"א held that human food which is no longer fit for human consumption but is fit for an animal but the practise is not to give such food to animals, loses it's קדושת שביעית and may disposed of normally. If such food is usually given to animals, it retains its קדושת שביעית.
Eating פירות שביעית
119. One may only eat פירות שביעית in the way they are normally eaten. Foods that are normally eaten raw (i.e. avocado, orange etc.) may not be eaten cooked. Foods that are normally eaten cooked (i.e. potato, zucchini etc.) may not be eaten raw. Foods that are eaten both raw and cooked, may be eaten either way.
120. If one cooks a food that is usually eaten raw, the food retains its קדושת שביעית and is still may be eaten.
121. If a small (but sizable) portion of the community eats a food in a given manner, it is considered normal and even those who don't normally eat it that way may eat it according to the practise of the minority. If only vegetarians or naturists eat the food in a given manner, it is considered "medicinal" and may not be eaten in that manner.
122. Something which is usually cooked, may be fried or roasted. Some assur cooking something which is usually pickled.
123. If one cooked food with קדושת שביעית in a pot, and within 24 used the same pot to cook food without קדושת שביעית, the second dish does not have קדושת שביעית. If the food cooked had already passed the time of ביעור, the absorbed taste is assur and assurs the second dish like all non-kosher food.
124. It is mutar to use wine with קדושת שביעית as an ingredient in a recipe, if the purpose is to add flavor. Some are only matir if the flavor of the wine is distinguishable.
125. Juicing: It is assur to juice foods that aren't usually juiced. Foods that are normally juiced, may be juiced but one cannot filter the juice to remove all the pulp. Some are even lenient to allow the removal of all the pulp. One should try to juice as much as possible. What is left over, and the peel, have קדושת שביעית.
126. Nowadays, that almost everything is juiced, it is mutar to juice virtually anything, provided that most of the food remains in the drink form. If a large part of the food goes to waste (i.e. apples, pears) it is assur to juice them.
127. If one juices a fruit which is not usually juiced the resulting juice may be drunk.
128. Mashing: It is mutar to mash foods that are normally mashed (i.e. potatoes, bananas). If liquid separates while mashing one should mix it with the mashed substance. Removing it would be equivalent to juicing something which isn't normally juiced. If mixing in the liquid would ruin or significantly degrade the food, one may separate it.
129. A food which is usually mashed for young children and not for adults may be mashed for young children but not for adults.
130. Freezing: Some say it is mutar to freeze juice of שמיטה because this is considered elevating its status. The ערוך השלחן writes that this is assur.
131. Peeling: It is mutar to peel a fruit which is normally peeled, even if the fruit is also normally eaten with the peel.
132. It is assur to peel a fruit which is only eaten with the peel. This is because the peel is food and when one peels it they are making it into waste. It is mutar to remove the peel if a significant portion of the fruit remains with the peel.
133. It is mutar to remove spoiled parts of a fruit in the same manner one would do so any other year.
Leftovers, Seeds, Soups etc.
134. One should dispose of food with קדושת שביעית in it's own garbage can (פח שמיטה), and every day's food should be placed in a separate plastic bag, so as to not cause the food to decay faster. One should not place the food directly into a garbage can, as the food will be rendered inedible immediately.
135. One should regularly check the פח שמיטה and throw out the food that is fully rotted, so that the פח שמיטה not become foul.
136. It is mutar to place various items in a single bag (i.e. peels, seeds) even though they decompose at different rates. This is because they are not going to be eaten and the fruit itself is not present.
137. Peels that are edible should be placed in the פח שמיטה.
138. Peels that have some food attached to them should be placed in the פח שמיטה. Peels that are only edible to animals, if the common practise is not to give them to animals, may be thrown out normally.
139. Fruits that have started to go bad and are only fit for animals, should be left to rot until they are unfit for animals and, only then, thrown out normally.
140. Seeds: There are several types of seeds:
A) If they are unfit for human or animal consumption, or it is not the practise to give them to animals (and they are unfit for human consumption): they can be placed in the regular garbage.
B) If part of the fruit remains on the seed, if only a small amount remains one may throw out the seed in the regular garbage. If a sizeable amount of fruit remains on the seed, or a small amount remains but one intends to eat it, one cannot place the seed in a regular garbage.
C) Seeds that cannot be eaten but can be sucked on, may be thrown out unless one intends to suck them.
141. Seeds from a watermelon or pumpkin (and some say also from a melon) should be placed in the פח שמיטה.
142. Pots and plates which have a minimal amount of food remaining may be washed, provided that the amount is so small that even someone who is very frugal would not save it. Similarly, when one juices fruits, if there remains an amount which is so negligible that most people wouldn't save it, may be placed in the regular garbage. If, nevertheless, one did gather the leftovers they do have קדושת שביעית and must be placed in the פח שמיטה.
143. Spices and tea which have been used and can no longer be used to give flavor may be placed in the regular garbage.
144. If one boils potatoes in water one can throw away the water, because it is not normal to use the water. If one boils vegetables in water it is assur to throw away the water because such water is usually eaten.
145. Oil of שמיטה that was used to fry something and a small amount remains can be thrown out. If a large amount remains it cannot be thrown out because it is still usable for lighting.
146. Nowadays, most oils are made from various seeds and come from חו"ל. The only oil that presents a problem of קדושת שביעית is olive oil.
Alternative uses for פירות שביעית
147. Olive oil: It is mutar to use olive oil for light and Shabbos and Yom Tov licht. It is assur to use it for Chanukah licht because it is assur to benefit from Chanukah licht. Some say that, since we do not normally use a נר נשמה for light, it is assur to light a נר נשמה with oil of שמיטה. Some say that if someone is starting a bonfire it is assur to add oil of שמיטה if the fire is already burning on its own.
148. It is assur to give to animals food which is fit for people. If an animal, on its own, is eating food fit for people, one does not have to stop it, unless one has already acquired the food for himself.
149. It is assur to make vessels or chains out of food (whether human or animal) that has קדושת שביעית.
150. It is assur to use food with קדושת שביעית for medicinal purposes. If one eats the food in the process, it is mutar. For example, one may not gargle alcohol that has קדושת שביעית but one may drink cognac to heal a pain in his tooth.
151. It is mutar to hang פירות שביעית in a succah for decoration.
152. It is assur to use פירות שביעית as a cleanser. Therefore, it is assur to remove stains with a lemon or vinegar of שמיטה.
153. It is assur to give פירות שביעית to a non-Jew. If the non-Jew is a guest in one's home, it is mutar to give him פירות שביעית.
154. It is assur to pay a worker with פירות שביעית, but to give him the food as a gift is mutar, even if he will subsequently forgive the debt.
155. It is mutar to send משלוח מנות from פירות שביעית, but some assur returning משלוח מנות with פירות שביעית, because that is the equivalent of paying off a debt.
156. It is assur to enhance פירות שביעית with the intent to sell them. This is included in the issur of transacting with פירות שביעית. If one enhanced פירות שביעית for personal use one may sell the leftovers.
Taking פירות שביעית to חו"ל
157. It is assur to take פירות שביעית to חו"ל. This is either because the ביעור must take place in ארץ ישראל or because we are concerned that they will be treated with קדושת שביעית in חו"ל.
158. If one is travelling to חו"ל, it is mutar to take a small amount of food with קדושת שביעית to eat while travelling provided that the food will be consumed before the time of ביעור.
159. If one did take פירות שביעית to חו"ל one is still allowed to eat the food.
160. The חזו"א allowed taking esrogim to חו"ל so that people will have ד' מינים. The Steipler writes that it is only mutar if, after Succos, one consumes the esrog before the time of ביעור.
Transferring קדושה for פירות שביעית
161. קדושת שביעית of פירות שביעית can only be transferred via a transaction but not through חילול (stating: "I hereby transfer the קדושת שביעית from these פירות שביעית onto this money.")
162. Money that has קדושת שביעית, or food that acquired קדושת שביעית second-hand, can have the קדושת שביעית removed either by means of a transaction or חילול.
163. There is a machlokes as to whether one can transfer קדושת שביעית from an item of any value onto the equivalent of a שווה פרוטה. In a situation where one would not treat the food or money as having any קדושת שביעית one can rely on the opinion that such a חילול works. After the fact, if one did this חילול, the money does have קדושת שביעית.
164. If one pays a non-Jew with money that has קדושת שביעית, some say the קדושת שביעית leaves the money (מדין באו פריצים וחיללוה) and others say that the קדושה remains on the money.
בעז"ה the laws of ביעור and שמיטת כספים will be explained in a later pamphlet
A Practical Guide to Purchasing Produce
Due to the fact that many are machmir for the opinion of the חזו"א, that produce from non-Jews has קדושת שביעית, I have included, בע"ה, a summary of how to go about purchasing from stores that rely on the minhag of ירושלים.
165. To avoid the problem of transacting with פירות שביעית, some appoint the vendor a שליח to purchase the produce. The result is that the produce was originally purchased from the non-Jew on behalf of the consumers, and the money paid later is repayment of the debt to the vendor for paying for their produce.
166. In situations that שליחות isn't a viable option (i.e. the store owner isn't a שומר תורה ומצוות), some rely on הבלעה. Some say that הבלעה doesn't help. See 88.
167. Regarding the issur of weighing and measuring, the only issur that a consumer needs to avoid is לפני עיור. That said, if one has a שליחות arrangement, there is no problem. Additionally, if the the vendor himself is relying on the מנהג of ירושלים there is no issur of לפני עיור because he is relying on a legitimate opinion.
168. If the vendor is not a שומר תורה ומצוות one should not purchase produce that potentially has קדושת שביעית, both because of the general גזירה not to purchase from them, as well as the issur of לפני עיור.
169. If one is purchasing produce with קדושת שביעית the money given to the vendor attains קדושת שביעית. If the vendor is not careful regarding the laws of שמיטה it is assur to give him even a פרוטה with קדושת שביעית. One should either pay with a credit card or check, as the money given later from the credit agency will not have קדושת שביעית.
170. Change: If one receives change from a store that isn't makpid on קדושת שביעית (or that the store owner relies on the מנהג ירושלים) one has to assume that the money has קדושת שביעית. This is because whenever someone paid cash for produce the money attains קדושת שביעית. (Bitul isn't applicable because the money is קבוע and money isn't בטל.) One has two options as to what to do with the money. A) One can transfer the קדושה via חילול onto a שווה פרוטה. B) One can transfer the קדושת שביעית onto the money given to the vendor (see 104-107). The simplest solution is to purchase on credit (with a credit card or check).
171. When purchasing vegetables from a vendor who isn't a שומר תורה ומצוות there is an additional concern for ספיחין. See 54-67.
172. When purchasing from a store that relies on the היתר מכירה, because the היתר מכירה is completely invalid there is potentially a problem of produce that was guarded and worked. The חזו"א paskens that, בדיעבד, one can rely on the opinions that produce that was guarded and even worked is not assur to eat.
173. See earlier sections regarding how to eat and dispose of food with קדושת שביעית.
HG"R Horowitz Shlit"a is available to answer any questions by telephone at 054-848-5090.
The original pamphlet was dedicated l'ilui nishmas HaGaon Rav Avrohom Ginochovsky ZT"L.