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Q&A

Setting up a trellis during shemitah

Rabbi Yehuda HaLevy Amichay
  1. Is it permissible to hang up a trellis net on a wall to support climbing plants? These plants were planted in Tammuz. Initially they began to climb and take hold of the wall itself. Now, though, they started to fall.
  2. Is it permissible to transfer cacti, planted before shemitah, which are currently outside (the planter is on the railing, under the open sky) into a planter indoors?

Sefichin during the shemitah year

Rabbi Yehuda HaLevy Amichay

I wanted to know about sefichin laws during shemitah: is it permissible or forbidden to eat vegetables harvested during the shemitah year?

Planting to conquer territory

Rabbi Yehuda HaLevy Amichay

Dear Rabbi,

I want to clarify an issue relating to shemitah, which has practical and immediate ramifications for me, so I need an answer right away (among other reasons, to commit to a tender for the Eitam lands on behalf of the Eftat Local Council. I redeem lands and preserve them from the Arab invaders, especially through planting trees. Part of this planting is on State lands (some of which are on JNF-KKL land), and some are on "survey" lands. All are in my area of residence: Efrat. I want to know if I am allowed to plant trees in these areas during the shemitah year. I would have never imagined that this might be permitted, until I read in the responsa Eretz Hemda that Rabbi Shaul Yisraeli permits it (additions to Gate 2:1: "Shemitah on ownerless and public land," p. 101), based on the ruling of the Netziv and Rabbi Tzvi Pesach Frank. All of my actions in this respect are for the sake of Heaven only, and I do not receive any financial or personal benefit. I am not looking for a heter, rather, I want to know what the true Torah way is for this issue.

Planting a small garden in Elul before the shemitah year

Rabbi Avraham Sochovolsky

Dear Rabbi,

I am going back to yeshiva to study on the 1st of Elul, G-d willing. I would like to set up a small garden next to my room. I'm not sure what is permitted for me to plant/sow in Elul ahead of shemitah (I looked up material online and in your shemitah guide, but I didn't really understand what I'm supposed to do). In general, I would like to plant: (1) Louisa verbena, (2) mint, (3) several flowers (I understand that it is makes a difference whether the flower is an annual or perennial—to tell the truth, I don’t really understand what that means), and (4) a fruit tree. I wanted to sow the first three and plant the tree.

Philosophical aspects of heter mechirah

Rabbi Yaakov Ariel

Dear Rabbi,

As part of my master's thesis in law, I wanted to ask you if you could address several points:

  1. In your article on heter mechirah (which I thoroughly enjoyed reading), you wrote that the situation as Rabbi Kook saw it upon his arrival in the Land of Israel was that it would be impossible for the Jewish colonies and agriculture to exist unless heter mechirah was employed—for either objective or subjective reasons. What did you mean by "objective and subjective reasons"?
  2. Do you not see an ideological contradiction in selling the land to non-Jews in order to maintain the Jewish ownership of the land (including both Jewish ownership and agriculture by Jews)?
  3. Isn't it possible to present the halachic solutions of the Ridbaz on the one hand, and Rabbi Kook on the other, as serving the ideologies of each? If so, would this not be the flip side of the coin – law in the service of ideology, as we refer to the legal view of the issue of shemitah (as the land belongs to JNF-KKL and the Development Authority) where it is prohibited to sell land except in specific cases, including for shemitah (Basic Law – Israel Lands)?

Otzar Ha'aretz membership during the shemitah year

Rabbi Yehuda HaLevy Amichay

Is there an advantage to have membership in Otzar Ha'aretz (besides the important financial support) for the issue of transacting with shemitah produce?

Do neta revay laws apply during the shemitah year?

Rabbi Avraham Socholovsky

Dear Rabbi,

We have a pomegranate tree, and next year it will begin its fourth year. Because next year is a shemitah year, is there something special we have to do with the fruit besides separating terumot and ma'aserot? Is there a different way to perform the separation?

Gray water recycling system from home to garden during shemitah

Rabbi Avraham Socholovsky

I recently hooked up a gray water recycling system from my house to the garden. My garden is approximately 200 m2, including 80 m2 of grass, 10 fruit trees, a living fence, and annual and perennial ornamental plants. I have about 500 drip pipes that run off of the system. Every day an average of 300 L of water runs out to the garden.

Is it possible to continue using the system during the shemitah year?

Fruit picking tourism during the shemitah year

Rabbi Yehuda HaLevy Amichay

Is there a problem participating in a fruit-picking tourist activity (where you pay for the harvesting experience and receive the basket of fruit that you pick) during the shemitah year?

Status of fruit that began growing between 1 Tishrei and 15 Shevat of the 7th and 8th years

Rabbis of Torah VeHa'aretz Institute

I'm asking about the difference between the period from Rosh Hashanah of the shemitah year and Rosh Hashanah of the ma'aser year, which is 15 Shevat. The new year for shemitah is 1 Tishrei, while the new year for ma'aserot from fruit is 15 Shevat (Tu BiShevat), as ruled by Beit Hillel. While the shemitah year starts on 1 Tishrei, we are still actually in the sixth ma'aser year (with the seventh year beginning only on 15 Shevat). If so, if a fruit begins to grow before 15 Shevat, do we need to separate ma'aser ani from it, as is the rule for sixth-year produce? On the other hand, from the research I've done, according to halachah during the shemitah year every fruit that begins to develop after 1 Tishrei will have kedushat shevi'it and thus exempt from ma'aser.

Practically speaking, the same question applies every year when the ma'aser sheni year switches to ma'aser ani, and vice-versa. The "problem" stems from the fact that the shemitah year period is not the same as the ma'aser year period, so it turns out that there is always a time during the year (from 1 Tishrei to 15 Shevat) where the shemitah cycle year is ahead of the ma'aser year.

Thank you!