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Hefker in my garden

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How am I supposed to perform the mitzvah of hefker in my garden?


Rabbi Moshe Bloom

During the shemitah year, your entire garden is not ownerless—only the produce that has kedushat shevi'it. Now you should render only the vegetables and herbs in your garden ownerless. In a few months, you will need to render the fruit on your trees ownerless.


Practical instructions

🥇 The best is to hang a sign outside of your garden: "hefker – kedushat shevi'it" and make sure that any Jew who wants to can come and pick the produce. You can add a request to be careful not to damage trees or trample plants.

📱Another possibility is to post on a neighborhood WhatsApp group. It's best to inform people what exactly is hefker and when, to make the information as accessible as possible.

⏰ If you are concerned about people coming into your garden, it is possible to hang a sign stating the hours the garden will be open for entry or note your telephone number and ask people to coordinate with you.

📝For those concerned about publicizing their telephone number: leave a pad and a pen outside and ask people to write their contact information and get back to them.

🧺 Another possibility is to harvest kedushat shevi'it produce, place it in a basket outside your yard with a sign "hefker – kedushat shevi'it." It's best to add a note with a short explanation of how to handle this produce (stay tuned – we will send you a printout you can use in the near future). You can also put this basket in front of a synagogue or preschool (don't write your name). It's best to do this in a place where most people are mitzvah observant and will be careful to handle the produce properly.


👉Important: It is forbidden to enter someone's garden and pick their produce unless you know that the owner rendered it hefker. Even though the owner is obligated to render it ownerless, if he or she failed to do so, they are sinning but the produce is not ownerless and taking it without permission is considered stealing.