Harvesting citrus trees now to avoid fruits from different years from getting mixed up
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I have several citrus trees in my garden that are now starting to bloom. Can I (and should I) pick all the existing fruits so the new and old fruit don't get mixed up? I have kumquats, clementines, lemons, and pomelos.
We still have plenty of time for clementines. New eighth-year clementines will be with us in Elul. G-d willing, we will post about the period of doubt for the fruit when it is more relevant.
Kumquats (a.k.a. tapuz sini)
Kumquats develop more rapidly than do other citruses. We are already well into the period of doubt for kumquats, which began in Shevat.
Unless you know which year each kumquat belongs to, separate terumot and ma'aserot without a berachah ( ma'aser ani and sheni) and treat them as having kedushat shevi'it. Again, when the status is in doubt, there is no obligation of giving the ma'aserot or rendering the fruit ownerless. See our instructions for the star fruit from yesterday's post.
If you do know which fruits belong to shemitah, it is best to harvest them now so they don't get mixed up with eighth-year fruit. 🌳 More on harvesting citrus fruit: lemons and pomelas
Lemons and pomelos
Rosh Chodesh Nissan is coming up soon, marking (this shemitah, at least, based on the development of most lemons this year) the halachic twilight zone for lemons and pomelos.
So that shemitah fruit don't get mixed up with eighth-year fruit (the former are holy and obligated in hefker; the latter are obligated in terumot and ma'aserot), it is a good idea to start harvesting your big, ripe lemons and pomelos.
Since Rosh Chodesh Kislev (eighth year) is behind us, the vast majority of posekim allow tree owners to harvest the fruit and then put them outside the home and declare them hefker. It is also possible to post on your local WhatsApp group and the like. Of course, you can take a week's worth for your family.
It is also possible to put the fruit in a box next to your synagogue (just write a hefker note, don't write your name). If you want to actively distribute the fruit, it is preferable to sign up as an otzar beit din agent. While some opinions permit this, many posekim hold that active distribution demonstrates ownership of the fruit since owners can distribute at their own discretion).
Signing up as an otzar beit din agent is easy. Torah VeHa'aretz Institute, set up a special beit din for this purpose.
Just sign your name on the document here, take a picture/scan and e-mail the document to Rabbi Moshe Bloom: firstname.lastname@example.org or send it to him via WhatsApp: 052-890-3729