Kedushat shevi'it in produce
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Since Rosh Hashanah I have been handling the cucumbers that I bought as having kedushat shevi'it. Was this the right thing to do?
It's commendable that you were careful with your cucumbers, but it's probably not necessary.
Most of the produce available does not have kedushat shevi'it. For produce to have kedushat shevi'it, it has to meet three criteria: (1) it grew in the Land of Israel, (2) on land owned by a Jew, (3) during the shemitah year (there are different parameters for various types of produce to be considered shemitah produce).
The sources of produce available in stores are as follows:
(1) Heter mechirah - Land is sold to a non-Jew. No kedushat shevi'it.
(2) Yivul nochri - Land belongs to a non-Jew, so no kedushat shevi'it. (Note: the custom in Benei Berak to treat this produce as having kedushat shevi'it., following the ruling of the Chazon Ish).
(3) Sixth-year produce - Vegetables harvested before shemitah and fruit that began developing before shemitah do not have kedushat shevi'it; at this point in the year fruit and root vegetables in stores are still sixth-year.
(4) Imports - Not from the Land of Israel. No kedushat shevi'it.
(5) Olei Mitzrayim – Produce grown in areas conquered by the Israelites who came from Egypt but not settled by the Jews who returned from Babylon. In this area the laws of shemitah are not as strict. Land here is sold to a non-Jew through heter mechirah lechumrah, so there is no kedushat shevi'it.
(6) Detached platforms (matza menutak) – Produce grown in hothouses on detached platforms are not considered growing in the Land of Israel. No kedushat shevi'it (note: only a little produce is grown in this way this shemitah year).
Only produce specifically labeled otzar beit din has kedushat shevi'it.
Such produce is primarily available in Otzar Ha'aretz stores (even there, not all produce has kedushat shevi'it; some is from the sixth year, some detached platforms, others Olei Mitzrayim). We have approximately 125 stores around the country, and two that deliver to many areas in Israel. If you want to have the privilege of eating produce with kedushat shevi'it, otzar beit din is the way to go!
Here is a link to the Otzar Ha'aretz website in English with a list of stores that sell produce from otzar beit din: https://buy.otzar-haretz.co.il/english/
We welcome you to join Shemitah Updates and share the link: https://www.toraland.org.il/linker/wa-english/