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Trees possibly planted during shemitah

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I harvested olives from olive trees that were planted during the shemitah year. The trees belong to the municipality, a local authority, and I received permission to harvest them. Four years passed from the time they were planted, and when I harvested the olives I didn't know that they were planted during the shemitah year. The trees were planted together with their clod of soil. Is there a way to use the olives? Could selling the olives to a non-Jew and buying them back help in any way?


Rabbi Yehuda HaLevy Amichay

While I don't know which local authority is in question, many authorities perform heter mechirah even on their decorative trees. You might be able to find out by contacting the council's gardening managers or the religious council. The Chief Rabbinate probably has records of this as well.

In the case that the authority performed heter mechirah, while it isn't the good that they planted trees during the shemitah year, the olives are not forbidden. Furthermore, you mentioned that they were planted with their clod of soil, so it is entirely possible that the trees halachically belong to the year before shemitah. It is not obligatory to uproot them if they began growing in 5774 (the year before shemitah), even though they were actually transplanted with their clod of soil in 5775 (shemitah); under certain conditions it is considered that they were planted in 5774 (this relates also to the orlah count).

We see here that we have two doubts:

  1. Were they planted during the shemitah year, or are they considered trees planted in 5774?
  2. Were they sold though heter mechirah?

The obligation to uproot trees planted during shemitah is a fine instituted by Chazal, so it is possible to be lenient when at least two such doubts are involved.


In continuation to my previous question on olive trees planted during the shemitah year. The authority is Ma'aleh Adumim. The gardening manager does not know whether heter mechirah was performed, but does know with certainty that the trees were planted with their clod of soil. Can I use the olives?


You should contact the rabbis of Ma'aleh Adumim—they might know if there was heter mechirah. Even if they don't know with certainty, we can leave the matter as a doubt. In terms of uprooting the trees or eating the olives, since this is a rabbinic fine and there are two doubts in question (as I wrote previously), the trees need not be uprooted and you may use the olives.