A Bit of Clarity Regarding Shmitah (1)

25 Tishrei 5775
October 19, 2014

It has been some time since the website has been active but shmitah compels an awakening. I continue to receive many inquiries from perplexed consumers regarding shmitah and the terms that are unfamiliar to many, especially residents of The Diaspora.

Permit me to strongly recommend attending shiurim on the topic since the mitzvah that we merit observing today extends throughout the year and is applicable for the years following shmitah. Canned and bottled items including but definitely not limited to wines, grape juices, jams, tomato products and canned goods sold in the years following shmitah may be from shmitah year.

The easiest way to navigate shmitah in addition to learning the halachos is familiarize oneself with the standard of different hashgachos and then just look for items with the acceptable hashgacha. The so-called “badatz” hechsherim observe what is called “shmitah l’chumra”, which means the produce sold is from the sixth year and/or from areas that do not carry the sanctity of shmitah, including from Jordan and some European countries. More to follow. This simply means one can treat these fruits and vegetables the same way one would the other six years.


  • Sholem
    October 19, 2014 - 08:07 | Permalink

    Of course plenty of the “shmitta lchumra” produce also comes from PLO sources as well. However nobody would ever advertise “these vegetables carry no safek of shvi’is, and we’re grown in a Palestinian village where murderers and Jew haters live”

  • October 19, 2014 - 10:49 | Permalink

    Sholem, while you are correct, sadly, this is true during the other six years too as Tnuva mixes PA goods with the other produce we buy so in essence, we are buying these items all the time.

    In addition, there is emotion and there is halacha and if one believes that this is the correct option, one has the option of ‘doing without’ and thereby avoid supporting PA farmers, or buying these items as we do the other six years.

    Like I try to explain in my shiurim, one must decide which option can best fulfill the mitzvah but for me personally, emotion and even buying from these guys is not a component of the formula.

    If one truly feels one is a “Zionist”, this is a great way to show it, by respecting the land during this special year by the method one best believes adheres to the mitzvah. Hence if one believes in Shmitah L’Chumra and does not want Arab produce, one can simply do without many items and observe the mitzvah this way. This however is between one and one’s rabbi to make the appropriate selection.


  • Sholem
    October 19, 2014 - 20:51 | Permalink

    Yechiel, thanks for the reply and its good to have you back.

    I found a rather relevant link in the news today – Arabs attacking the Shmitta inspector, who came to certify their produce. As you say, there are many ways to avoid shvi’is without supporting terror.


  • Anonymous
    October 27, 2014 - 15:06 | Permalink

    It is worth pointing out that since the Chazon Ish held that yevul nachri is subject to kedushas shevi’is, the reliable mehadrin hechsherim will all mark it specially (except for some fresh produce stalls). Any packaged mehadrin product that contains fruits or vegetables and doesn’t say it’s yevul nachri can be assumed to come from the sixth year, chutz la’aretz, the far south of Israel, detached greenhouses, etc. In contrast, a product that is under non-mehadrin hashgacha may be from the PLO, because the Rabbanut does allow it during shemittah!

    As for fresh produce, many mehadrin produce stalls will mark the type of produce (sixth year, chutz la’aretz, etc.). Again, this is necessary anyway for those who follow the Chazon Ish. In stalls that don’t mark it, you could try asking the mashgiach. You can thus make sure to avoid getting any PLO/Israeli Arab produce if you like. You will likely have to give up some types of vegetables for a year, though. This is how shemittah always had to be practiced in the times of the beis hamikdash — no fresh vegetables at all for a year.

  • Simon
    October 30, 2014 - 11:04 | Permalink

    Isn;t it worth saying the difference between the Bnei Brak (“BB”) and Jerusalem (“J-m”) opinions regarding kedushat shviis on yuval nochri?

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