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Educational gardens during shemitah (2)

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Dear Rabbi,

In continuation to your previous answer on permissible actions during the shemitah year, I wanted to ask as follows:

  1. The students learn about the structure of plants. Is it possible to transport plants from place to place (both outside the classroom or from classroom to classroom) to explain it to them? Can I tear off leaves from the plant (please explain)?
  2. May I sprout beans? In which way is it permissible?
  3. As part of biology class, is it permissible to plant and cultivate a garden? Is it permissible to plant herbs in a garden? If not, is there a permissible alternative?
  4. Is it permissible, as part of the lesson, to bring plants into the classroom to study under a microscope?
  5. I would like to know if there is a booklet on gardening according to halachah during the shemitah year that is appropriate for school-aged children.


Rabbi David Eigner
  1. It is permissible to transfer plants from place to place, providing that they are not set down in a permanent new place. If they are transferred outside, they should be placed in a box or a similar, closed container.
    For plants that do not have kedushat shevi'it, it is not a problem to tear off leaves. This is provided that this is performed in a way that does not initiate new growth and only in order to show the students.
  2. Sprouting plants (including lentils) is permissible indoors only.
  3. One should not plant new plants in a garden, but it is permissible to tend to and maintain existing plants. The only possibility for doing so is to plant ahead of shemitah so they grow during shemitah, or setting up a hothouse with detached platforms
  4. It is permissible to bring plants inside for educational purposes, as long as it does not initiate new growth on the plant it is taken from.
  5. For all the Hebrew books on Shemitah, click here. For our English Shemitah guide, click here.