Using shemitah wine for mishloach manot
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I bought lots of otzar beit din wine. Am I allowed to include a bottle in mishlo'ach manot?
The answer to this question involves the issue of whether mishloach manot is considered the payment of a debt.
Using shemitah produce to pay off debts
The Torah designates shemitah produce for eating: "And the [produce] of the Sabbatical year is for you to eat" (Vayikra 25:6). Chazal derive from here that shemitah produce may not be used to pay debts or fulfill obligations. Besides paying wages, this includes a pledge to hold a kiddush after shul, for instance, or even bringing obligatory sacrifices. Some posekim learn from here that it is forbidden to use shemitah produce to perform mitzvot since it is tantamount to paying our debt to G-d.
Under which circumstances may we include shemitah wine in mishloach manot?
Halachah mandates giving mishloach manot (two food items) to one person only. It follows that the prohibition to perform this mitzvah with shemitah produce applies only to the first mishloach manot given on Purim.
Afterwards, though, it would be permissible to give additional mishlochei manot incorporating shemitah produce.
Reciprocating with holy mishloach manot – repayment of a debt?
When one receives mishloach manot from a friend, it is the accepted practice to reciprocate with mishloach manot. Could this be considered a repaying social debt?
According to Rav Elyashiv (and others), this is not considered an actual debt since one cannot sue his friend in a rabbinical court for failing to reciprocate with mishloach manot (It sure sounds like great material for a Purim skit, though). Nevertheless, most posekim maintain that this should be avoided (including Rav Mordechai Eliahu).
Even according to stringent opinions, if you have more than two items in your mishloach manot, it is permissible to use a shemitah product as the third (or more). Then you are repaying the debt, as it were, with the other two items, which halachically constitute mishloach manot.
Bottom line: Shemitah produce can be the third item, but label it (instructions are helpful too)
Those interested in adding a holy bottle of wine (or any other holy shemitah products) to their mishlochei manot, lechatchilah, should ensure that there are at least three items in the mishloach manot. This applies also to the first mishloach and to reciprocal mishlochei manot. It is important to label the holy produce and recommended to add instructions.
Instructions for shemitah goods in mishloach manot
This orange/lemon/apple/pear has kedushat shevi'it. Try to finish the whole fruit, and bag the peels before disposing. The pits aren't holy. If you generally don't eat the core, it isn't holy either.
This grapefruit/sweetie/clementine/pomelo/kiwi has kedushat shevi'it. Try to finish the whole fruit. The peels and pits aren't holy (unless a considerable amount of fruit is stuck to them; in that case, bag them before disposal).
This lemon cupcake has kedushat shevi'it. Try to finish it all. Even if some crumbs are stuck to the wrapper, it can be disposed as usual. Only if a significant amount is left, bag before disposal (but that won't happen because it's delicious 😋).
Feel free to use our instructions for wine and grape juice, here.
Hebrew guidelines are available here.