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Transplanting a tree during the shemitah year


In the yard adjacent to my house construction will start soon, slated to begin after Rosh Hashanah. There are fruit trees growing in the yard: citrus, loquat, and plum trees. These trees will need to be uprooted and replanted during the shemitah year. Under which conditions can trees be transplanted during shemitah? The construction work cannot begin before Rosh Hashanah, and these are large fruit trees. What about orlah—will the trees need to restart their orlah count?


Rabbi Yaakov Epstein

Only in extenuating circumstances may fruit trees be uprooted, together with their clod of soil encasing their roots, by a non-Jew during the shemitah year. However, under no circumstances may they be replanted during shemitah. This is especially the case because this is not a financial issue, rather a matter of benefit (the fruit of the trees are not sold commercially).
I suggest that you place the trees with their clod of earth in a house disconnected from the ground, and after shemitah you can plant it in the ground. In this case, you need to restart the orlah count for the tree.