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Gathering purslane seeds to sow next (8th) year

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Purslane grew underneath the stairs of the synagogue, right in the seam between the sidewalk and the bottom stair (see picture).

I want to pick the seeds, keep them, and plant them after shemitah outside of my house. Is this permissible?

If so, do I have to just take the seeds and not touch the plant, or am I allowed to cut the plant above ground level? May I uproot it?


Rabbi Moshe Bloom

Short Answer:

It is permitted to uproot the purslane, keep the seeds, and plant them after shemitah.

Expanded Answer:

Purslane is not a plant that is commercially grown; it grows wild. It is edible (in salad, burgers, as an herb; generally, after being briefly cooked). It is a staple in the cuisine of Arabs in Israel and some Jewish ethnic groups.

Purslane appears in the Mishnah (Shevi'it 7:1; 9:1) as an edible annual that is permissible to eat during shemitah. See the entry רגלת הגינה (purslane) in the Seder Zera'im dictionary by Torah VeHa'aretz Institute and its Mishnayot Shevi'it (Heb., 5781), p. 226.


Does the sefichin prohibition apply?

Since purslane is a plant that is not conventionally sown, the sefichin prohibition does not apply to it and it is permitted to gather and eat it during shemitah even if it began to grow during the shemitah year (Rambam, Shemitah 4:3).

In your case, the plant sprouted between the sidewalk and the stair, which is not an area designated for planting. This is yet another reason why it would not be considered sefichin (Ibid., 4:4).

Uprooting as a derivative of plowing

In general, it is forbidden to uproot plants since this overturns the ground and prepares it for planting. It is a derivative of plowing.

Again, since it is growing in a place not meant for planting, it is permitted to uproot the plant completely; it is not necessary to cut it above ground.

Kedushat shevi'it

The leaves of the plant have kedushat shevi'it, but the seeds are not edible so they do not have kedushah.