Vegetables that started growing before shemitah, but are sold and bought (without heter mechirah or otzar beit din)
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I used to buy produce from a farmer who doesn't have a hechsher, and says that he is selling produce that began growing before the beginning of shemitah and that his produce has kedushat shevi'it. He isn't part of an otzar beit din.
Isn't that a problem? I mean, the produce is supposed to be hefker and you are not supposed to transact with it. Am I allowed to eat the vegetables? I accidently bought some already before checking him out.
You are correct. Not rendering such produce ownerless (hefker), harvesting it commercially, and transacting with it is forbidden during the shemitah year. This is called shamur vane'evad – guarded and worked. While you certainly should not purchase vegetables from this farmer (we are not supposed to help wrongdoers), bedi'avad, at this point of the year, you can eat the vegetables you bought. This is the ruling of Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, and we at the Torah VeHa'aretz Institute rely on this ruling. Of course, the produce has kedushat shevi'it and should be handled as such. Be sure to check the sefichin calendars for vegetables that are planted after the onset of shemitah and are now appearing in the marketplace (on our website: https://en.toraland.org.il/beit-midrash/articles/shemitah/shemitah-calendars/shemitah-calendar-for-vegetables).