Orlah fruit is forbidden outside of Israel too!
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Orlah is a mitzvah tied to the Land of Israel—does it apply abroad as well, and if so, is the prohibition the same? An overview of the practical applications of orlah outside of Israel and why most Jews abroad are not familiar with it.
I'm sure that many of you reading the title have never worried about orlah abroad. Have we been wrong all these years? Furthermore, it's an oxymoron: orlah, after all, is a mitzvah tied to the Land of Israel, so how could it apply abroad?!
The Mishna (Kidushin 1:9) states that orlah is an exceptional mitzvah: "All mitzvot tied to the Land of Israel apply only in the Land [of Israel]… except for orlah and kilei hakerem [which also apply abroad]."
The Gemara (Kidushin 39a) cites Rabbi Yehuda's opinion to counter those who believe that orlah does not apply to fruit grown outside of Israel:
"Whoever says that orlah does not apply outside the Land of Israel will have neither child nor grandchild 'who casts line for the lot in the congregation of Hashem' (Micha 2:5) … orlah outside the Land of Israel is a precept transmitted to Moshe at Sinai."
That is, orlah in the Land of Israel is a biblical prohibition, while abroad it is a halacha leMoshe miSinai (which seems to be closer to mideoraita severity than derabanan). Both Rambam (Ma'achalot Asurot 10:10) and Shulchan Aruch (YD §294:8) rule accordingly.
However, there is a major difference inside and outside the Land of Israel in the case of safek orlah, when it there is about orlah status. The Mishna states (Orlah 3:9): "If there is a doubt about [whether or not a fruit is] orlah: in the Land of Israel it is forbidden, and in Syria it is permitted, and outside the Land of Israel, one may go down [to the market] and buy it, as long as one doesn't see the harvest." The Shulchan Aruch rules accordingly (ibid., §294:9).
Abroad, as long as I don't actually see the fruit being harvested from an orlah tree, I may eat it. While I may not eat fruit from my tree during its orlah years, outside of Israel if someone gives me fruit from their tree—even if it might be orlah—it is still permissible to eat. And if I buy fruit from a store, I can eat it even if I know that the vast majority of fruit sold there is orlah.
There aren't many Jewish farmers living outside Israel, and many Jews live in apartment buildings and don't have gardens with trees. This is why, in my humble opinion, despite the fact that orlah definitely applies outside of Israel, most observant Jews are not aware of the prohibition.