Digging up soil in the Land of Israel for burial abroad
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In the Diaspora, it is customary to be buried with some earth from the Land of Israel. Is it permissible to dig up soil for this purpose during the shemitah year?
Rabbi Moshe Bloom
While digging for a non-agricultural purpose is permissible during the shemitah year, it needs to be clear that one is not performing a forbidden activity. The best is to dig up the soil from an area not used for agricultural activities. This is termed halachically שְׂדֵה בּוּר. If this is not possible and you want to use soil from your garden, it is possible to gather soil from different areas (a little here, a little there), manually if possible. Avoid digging up lots of soil in one spot, so it will not appear that you are digging in order to plant.