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Using shemitah oil to polish antiques

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Regarding olive oil, I have antique card catalog from a library.  I was told to only use extra Virgin olive oil to polish.  It's worth about $1,500.  Is that still considered a degraded use? I haven't polished it since I made Aliyah last year.


Rabbi Moshe Bloom



Short Answer

This type of use is forbidden.

Expanded Answer

Rambam writes (Hilchot Shemitah 5:1) that the permitted uses for shemitah produce are as follows:

  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Smearing on the body (cream, oil)
  • Lighting candles
  • Paint

However, he writes explicitly that oiling other things besides the body is forbidden (ibid., 5:7): "Oil from the Sabbatical year should not be used to seal an oven or a range, nor should it be applied to a shoe or a sandal." Elsewhere (ibid., 6:10) he adds: "One should not apply oil from the Sabbatical year to utensils or hides."