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Picking all the kedushat shevi'it fruit on the tree

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Iyar 5782, May 2022

I have a very tall nectarine tree (we didn't prune it this year). We picked the nectarines that we could reach, but there are dozens more that are very high up and difficult to reach. Do I have to pick them?


Rabbi Moshe Bloom

in short: You are not obligated, but it is best to make an effort to pick as many as possible.


Expanded answer: You may leave the fruit on the tree until it falls down. However, we only have the mitzvah of shemitah and eating the holy fruit once in seven years! You will only be able to eat your nectarines for the next few months. For these reasons, I believe that the mitzvah of shemitah is worth the effort to harvest the rest of the fruit.

You can borrow or even rent a very tall ladder.

You can also have a gardener prune branches with fruit carefully so that the fruit will stay whole and edible. If a branch fell and some of the fruits are squashed, you can still eat the other half (which is 50% more than you would have eaten otherwise).

You can even make it a family event: invite the whole family to climb on ladders and harvest the holy fruit. After that, you can take fruit for your family and put out baskets with your hefker fruit for anyone to take.

Even better, make it a community event and invite your friends, neighbors, members of your synagogue to harvest together and take home what they picked (perhaps ahead of Shavuot). If you have family members living abroad, don't forget to include them in your joyous event! You can even do a Zoom conference during the harvest.

How lucky are we that we have the merit to enjoy the holy fruit of the Land of Israel during the shemitah year!