Soaking seeds in water during shemitah
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I know that we're not allowed to soak seeds in water on Shabbat. But I read that we're allowed to soak seeds during the shemitah year. Why is the former forbidden and the latter permissible?
On Shabbat, the halachah relates to the action performed: soaking is a melachah performed to the seed, which softens it. During the shemitah year, in contrast, only melachot that engage the ground are prohibited. Soaking seeds is not a melachah performed in the ground, but rather on something detached from the ground. The same holds true for harvest during shemitah: harvesting is prohibited only from plants attached to the ground, but on Shabbat it is prohibited to detach plants from the source of their growth—even a plant from the handle of a pitcher (Shabbat 73b; 107b – 108a).