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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?


Rabbi Yehuda HaLevy Amichay

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).