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Transplanting grafted trees


I have citrus trees in my yard. According to the list on your website, they have a questionable status vis-à-vis kilei ilan. For this reason, grafting and planting should be performed by a non-Jew, but Jews may care for the tree both actively and passively.

1. If a Jew was involved in either grafting or planting the tree (or both)—must the tree be uprooted bedi'avad?

2. Some trees are in planters and we need to plant them in the ground. Is transplanting permitted by a Jew, or is a non-Jew's services needed for this action? That is, is transplanting considered halachically a new planting, requiring a non-Jew, or is it simply moving the tree to a larger area, considered actively sustaining the tree—an action permitted to Jews.

3. In continuation to the previous question: what happens if the transplant is performed in a way that does not necessitate a new orlah count (it is transplanted in a clod of soil large enough to sustain the tree for two weeks; the planted had a large enough hole and was attached to the ground; the planted was detached from the ground for less than 24 hours). In this case, would the transplant be permitted by a Jew, or would a non-Jew need to perform it?


Rabbi Moshe Bloom

1. Trees of questionable kilayim status (that is, there is a doubt whether the scion and rootstock are considered the same species), and it was both grafted and planted by a Jew, bedi’avad it is possible to be lenient and sustain the tree. It is not required to uproot it. The reason for this is that sustaining trees grafted in a forbidden fashion is derabanan, but in this case there is a doubt as to whether the graft itself was forbidden and constitutes kilei ilan. As we know, safek derabanan lekula. However, in the case where a tree is definitely a forbidden graft, it must be uprooted.

2. Transplanting a tree is considered planting it anew according to the Chazon Ish. For this reason, even a tree with a questionable kilayim status should be transplanted by a non-Jew.

3. Even if the citrus tree is transplanted in a way that is not considered new planting for orlah count purposes, we are stringent about transplanting for kilayim and it should be performed by a non-Jew. This is the ruling of Torah VeHa'aretz Institute (albeit, there may be some who are lenient in this regard).