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Fixing up damage from the storm during Shemitah, winter 5782

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Fixing up damage from the storm during Shemitah, winter 5782

Rabbi Moshe Bloom

The snow that covered Jerusalem and its environs, Samaria, and Northern Israel caused damage to trees, plants, and agriculture. What are we allowed to do during shemitah to fix the damage?



Snow in Har Bracha, Shomron. Rabbi Moshe Bloom, his wife Chava & kids, winter 5782


Trees that bent - A tree that became crooked due to the winds or snowfall may not be straightened unless it is bent so much that it could kill the tree. Another way to permit straightening the tree is if it is an ornamental tree, and if it grows crooked it would no longer fill its purpose as beautifying the area. The heter to straighten trees applies only in cases where if left alone until after shemitah, it would be impossible to straighten it out again and would grow permanently in a crooked manner.

Parts of plants that wilted - Parts of plants that wilted due to the cold weather can be removed for aesthetics but not to encourage growth.

Branches that fell or broke - Branches that fell due to the snow or wind should not be taped together so they will merge again, but it is possible to tie the branch so it won't fall any more than it has fallen already. It is permissible to saw off the branch. However, when sawing, do not remove it in a precise fashion and location (leave at least 20-30 cm from the trunk), since this enhances the trunk's growth.

Plants taken indoors - While it is generally prohibited to take plants outside that were indoors during shemitah, if plants were taken indoors temporarily to protect them from the storm, it is permissible to bring them outside again.

Plants that were uprooted - If a plant was uprooted with its clod of soil (large enough to sustain the plant for two weeks), it is possible to return the plant to the hole it used to be in.
If a plant was uprooted without a clod of soil, it is forbidden to replant it in its place. It is permitted to bring it inside, however, and plant it indoors until the end of the shemitah year.

Flower plants that fell - A perforated flower pot that had been sitting outside, and the wind or an animal knocked it over, it is possible to put it back in its place. One's intention is not to increase or enhance its growth.

Shaking the snow off of plants - There are plants that are sensitive to snow that could be significantly damaged from long-term exposure to snow. In such cases, it is permissible to shake the snow off of them.

Hothouses that collapsed - It is permissible to fix a hothouse that collapsed if leaving the plants in it in the present state will ruin them.