Disclaimer: Most of the correspondence in these pages is individual, and does not necessarily apply in all situations. Sometimes Rav Balanson responds to a specific writer in a certain way because he knows personal information not available to the outside reader. The reader should keep in mind, as with studying any shu�tim, that if he�s uncertain about any issue, he should clarify with his own shaila.
Questions may be addressed to Rav Asher Balanson at email@example.com
- There are six mitzvos that must be observed in regard to Peros Shevi�is.
- Four of the mitzvos are from the Torah:
- To be mafkir (relinquish ownership of) the produce.
- Not to use the produce improperly.
- Not to buy and sell the produce as you normally would.
- To do biur (as will be explained further on) on the produce.
- There are two additional mitzvos which are Rabbinical:
- Isur Sefichin: Not to use even uncultivated vegetables.
- Not to remove the produce from E. Israel abroad.
- All the above apply only to that produce that has kedushas Shevi�is (that is considered to be seventh-year produce) as will be explained below.
- Which agricultural produce has kedushas Shevi�is.
- The following have kedushas Shevi�is: produce eaten by people or animals, produce used for smearing on people or burnt for illumination, flowers grown in order to enjoy their smell. In the case of flowers that have a good smell, but are grown primarily for the way they look and not for their smell, there is a machlokes.
- Kedushas Shevi�is applies also to the "taste" of produce: Produce cooked with other food (unless it is batel) causes the food to have kedushas Shevi�is.
- This produce only has kedushas Shevi�is at specific times: vegetables that were picked during Shmita, olives, grapes, grains and legumes (beans, peas, etc.) that reached a third of their total growth during Shmita, and fruit that had chanata (blossoms) during Shmita. We are also machmir that if an esrog was picked during Shmita, it is kadosh. Some say that chanata means a third of their growth. Others say that it means that the flower has fallen and the fruit is then visible.
- The following doesn't have kedushas Shevi�is: produce from which you get enjoyment from only after it is used up (like firewood, and flowers that do not have a good smell).
- There are different minhagim regarding non-Jewish produce:
- Minhag Yerushalayim: Produce that grew in the field of a non-Jew does not have kedushas Shevi�is.
- Chazon Ish: Even produce that grew in the field of a non-Jew is kadosh.
- Because of this halacha, if you bought Shmita grapes from a non-Jew and made wine, you should take off trumos and maasros (without a bracha). It is best to say the nusach for both maaser ani and maaser sheni.
- Shmita applies only in Eretz Yisrael, and produce grown abroad is not kadosh. Certain parts of the country (the lower Negev, etc.) are like chutz l�aretz. Other places (like Gush Katif) are questionable, so we are machmir.
- Shamur vene�evad: if the fields were worked or not made hefker.
- There is a machlokes among the Poskim whether the produce grown in a field whose owner wasn't mafkir it is permitted to be eaten or not. The Chazon Ish says you can be mekil. The Badatz is machmir.
- According to everyone, the produce may not be bought from the owner of the field (this is a way of fining him for improper conduct).
- There is a machlokes among the Poskim if the produce grown in a field whose owner worked the field during Shmita is permitted to be eaten or not. According to everyone, the produce may not be bought from the owner of the field (this is a way of fining him for improper conduct).
- In the above cases, if you are using this kind of produce, you don't have to take off trumos and maasros (Chazon Ish).
- Sefichin - "uncultivated vegetables."
- According to the Torah, produce that grows by itself is mutar.
- The Rabbis saw that people were planting and claiming that the produce grew by itself. Therefore, they were oser any produce that grew during Shmita. In certain cases the Rabbis were not gozer as will be explained.
- Any vegetables that grows during Shmita in the field of a Jew is including in the gezeira. Vegetables that grow in a field that has no owner are also included. Grains and legumes that have reached a third of their total growth during Shmita are included.
- Some Poskim say if vegetables finished growing during Shmita, they are included. The Chazon Ish says only if they began to grow during Shmita are they oser. However, they will have kedushas Shevi�is if picked during Shmita.
- Vegetables picked in the 8th year are asur until enough time has passed for vegetables planted in the 8th year to become fully grown, or if the same kind of vegetables have been imported from abroad.
- The following produce is not included in the gezera of sefichin:
- Fruits (We aren't afraid that he will plant a tree).
- Vegetables that grew in fields that are not generally planted.
- Vegetables that are unimportant and people don't generally plant them.
- Vegetables that grew in fields owned by non-Jews (even according to the opinion that they have kedushas Shevi�is).
- Anything that grew inside the house.
- Each year there is a list of dates publicized indicating when each kind of vegetable is asur.
- In cases of great need (i.e. if a person is chas veShalom hospitalized or in the army or perhaps is afraid of insulting and hurting a relative, and has no way of avoiding the problem or solving it in some other manner) certain Poskim say that nowadays sefichin may be eaten.
- How should the biur be done.
- The produce should be taken out of your house and you should be mafkir it in front of three people. The people can be your friends, even if you know they won't take the produce.
- After the biur you can take back the produce for your own use. Even after the biur the produce still has kedushas Shevi�is.
- If a person didn't do the biur, the produce is asur to be eaten. This doesn't apply to produce owned by a non-Jew at the time of biur. However, according to the Chazon Ish, the day you buy the produce you must do biur (This is not according to Minhag Yerushalayim).
- Produce that belonged to the Otzar Beis Din for the entire biur period doesn't need biur; you must do biur if you get it from them.
- The same halachos apply to money that has kedushas Shevi�is. The time for biur will be the same as the produce that was sold.
- If all you have is the amount of produce that is generally consumed by your family at three normal meals, then you don't have to do biur.
- According to the Gemara, the biur should take place when there is no produce left in the fields. This is hard to determine and therefore for each kind of produce there is a time-span when we are uncertain.
- Some people, therefore, are mafkir each day (and then take the produce back, as explained above) for as long as there is a doubt.
- Others (because of the difficulty involved in the above) are mafkir at the beginning of the period of doubt, and then, when they take the produce back, have no intention of "acquiring" it, but retain it as hefker. They must specify to the three people who witness the hefker that they are retaining it as hefker and not as their property. This means that anyone can come and take the produce from their house.
- There are a number of kinds of produce that have a set time for biur:
- Figs: Chanukah after Shmita.
- Dates: Purim after Shmita.
- Grapes (and wine): Pesach after Shmita.
- Olives (and oil): Shavuos after.
- The Kiddusha Shevi�s produce must be used in the manner that it is normally used:
- Produce that is normally eaten cooked may not be eaten raw (squash), and vice versa (oranges). Produce that is eaten both ways may be eaten both ways (apples).
- Produce may be pickled, mashed, made into jam, squeezed for juice only if normally done (lemons, grapes, oranges, etc.). Some Poskim are machmir even then. Fruit juices made from produce with Peros Shevi�is have kedushas Shevi�is.
- If improper usage was made of the produce, it may still be eaten.
- Produce that is normally peeled before being eaten may be peeled, even if it can be eaten without being peeled (apples, cucumbers, etc). If not normally peeled, it may not be peeled (tomatoes, etc). Some Poskim say that orange peels have kedushas Shevi�is because they are fed to animals and are even eaten by humans when properly cooked.
- Spoiled or dirty parts may be removed even though some good parts come off too (kedushas Shevi�is will still be present). Food that is no longer fit for human consumption, but is still fit for animal consumption, still has kedushas Shevi�is.
- Produce that is generally eaten may not be used for other purposes. Vinegar may not be used to soak lettuce leaves to kill the bugs. You cannot make pictures or other arts and crafts projects with the food. You are not allowed to ruin the produce or render it unfit to be eaten.
- It should not be given to a baby who isn't capable of eating by himself and generally spoils most of what is given to him to eat by himself. You can give the produce to little children who eat by themselves, even if this means that they will ruin some of the produce. This is permitted because this is their normal way of eating.
- Produce normally eaten by people may not be given to animals, and vice versa.
- You cannot extinguish the havdallah candle in wine that has kedushas Shevi�is. You can pour the cup until it overflows only if their is a saucer under it and the wine will be drunk afterwards. You cannot use wine that has kedushas Shevi�is for pouring out during the Pesach Seder when you read about the ten plagues.
- Oil that has kedushas Shevi�is cannot be used for Chanukah candles, since the candles may not be used for your personal enjoyment. The same is true for a Yahrtzeit candle or a Lag B'Omer fire. The oil may be used for Shabbos or Yom Tov candles.
- Food leftovers that are still edible may not be thrown out. They should be left until they rot and then can be discarded. You should be careful not to place in the same bag food leftovers that are still fresh with those that have begun to rot, since this causes the former to rot faster. In case of need, when the above is not possible, you can place the food leftovers in a plastic bag, seal it, and place it in the garbage. The bag should be placed on the top of the garbage where it won't be immediately ruined by the addition of more garbage.
- In places where the garbage trucks crush the garbage, the food should be discarded only when it has begun to spoil in order not to cause the garbage collectors to do an isur of ruining the produce.
- Peels (apples, cucumbers, melons, etc.) or pits (prunes, peaches, etc.) that contain food remnants as well as leaves (lettuce, etc.) that have parts that are still edible, should also be treated in this manner.
- In the case of soups, etc, where it isn't practical to place them in plastic bags, they should be left outside of the refrigerator until they begin to go bad, and then they can be discarded.
- In the case of food left over in plates after the meal, if it is only a small amount, that would not normally be removed before washing the plates, it can be left there when the plates are washed. If, for some reason, it was removed from the plate, it should be placed in the Shmita "Bin." If it is a larger amount it should be removed and placed in the "Bin."
- Food leftovers that are not edible may be thrown away in the garbage. This means that they became dirty and/or spoiled.
- Produce that has kedushas Shevi�is may not be taken abroad. In cases of need you can take food along to eat while travelling.
- You cannot give the produce to a non-Jew.
- You are not allowed to plant the produce.
- Some Poskim say that the produce shouldn't be used for Mishloach Manos.
- There is an obligation to be mafkir any produce that has kedushas Shevi�is.
- The owner must let people into his property in order to pick the produce. The people who come in to pick the Shmita produce must be careful not to damage any of the property, nor touch non-Shmita produce.
- If the person is concerned that if he leaves his fields open, then either non-Jews or animals will eat the produce, then he can lock the fields. He must put up a large sign indicating that the field is hefker, and give instructions where and how to obtain the key for anyone interested.
- You are not allowed to buy or sell the produce in the normal manner.
- If this was done, the produce may be eaten.
- There are conditions under which you are permitted to sell the produce:
- You are allowed to pick only small quantities of produce to sell. This means the amount that you would normally use in a few days.
- The produce may not be weighed or measured, but must be only estimated.
- The produce may not be sold in the regular market.
- The produce may not be bought from someone who doesn't act properly with produce that has kedushas Shevi�is. The problem here is that the money given to him will have kedushas Shevi�is.
- When you sell or buy produce you must realized that the money as well has kedushas Shevi�is. This means that you must buy food with this money and treat the food as you would regular Shmita food. After the second food is bought, the money is regular money. The original Shmita food retains its status always.
- Many stores in Jerusalem sell fruit that comes from fields owned by non-Jews and, according to Minhag Yerushalayim, doesn't have kedushas Shevi�is. This produce can be sold in the normal manner. The following conditions to buying in stores apply either to Jewish produce or to those places that follow the Chazon Ish.
- The proper thing to do is to appoint the owner of the store as your agent to purchase the produce. This way the owner buys a small amount for each of his customers and he doesn't "sell" it to them, but just distributes it to them.
- If this cannot be done, then the Shmita produce should be bought behavla�a. Buy some non-Shmita produce and pay more for it and have the owner give you the Shmita produce as a present. This works only if the havla�a makes sense: The non-Shmita produce costs significantly more than the Shmita, and the price isn't obviously wrong.
- If this is not possible, then the produce should be bought on credit. Preferably, the payment should be made only after the produce is eaten. If not, then take the produce, leave the store, and then come back and pay for it. This way the money will not have kedushas Shevi�is on it.
- Even according to the Chazon Ish, you can buy Shmita produce from a non-Jew and pay him immediately (you don't have to buy on credit). You must be certain, however, that the produce is, in fact, grown in a non-Jew's field.
- You can also "buy" produce via an Otzar Beis Din that arranges the distribution of the produce. The money paid for the produce is not for the produce itself, but to defray the expenses that the Beis Din had in getting the produce. Since this isn't really a sale, the produce may be weighed and measured and the money given for it has no kedushas Shevi�is. The Beis Din can continue to distribute the produce in this manner even after the time of biur has arrived.
- When buying from a store that has a special Shmita "hechsher":
- There will be no problem of sefichin or shamur veneevad.
- The Badatz has indicated that they will be supplying some produce that grew in fields of non-Jews, therefore, according to the Chazon Ish, there will be kedushas Shevi�is and when the time for biur comes, you will have to be mafkir the produce. However, you can still buy the produce in the normal manner. According the Minhag Yerushalayim there will be no problem of the above, and you can treat the produce as you do the produce you buy now.
- If you've received produce from an agricultural settlement that either doesn't observe Shmita or relies on the "heter mechira":
- In the case of vegetables, there will be a problem of sefichin.
- Shamur veneevad is a problem and according to the Badatz, the produce cannot be eaten. The Chazon Ish was mekil and allowed the produce to be eaten.
- The produce will have kedushas Shevi�is and will have to be treated properly.
- When the time for biur arrives, you will have to be mafkir the produce. Should the produce enter your possession after the time of biur, according to many Poskim the produce cannot be eaten. According to some Poskim, if you received the produce as a present, you can eat it.
- The same will apply if you are eating at the home of somebody that does not buy produce with a special "hechsher."
- If you want to purchase produce that grew in an agricultural settlement that either doesn't observe Shmita or relies on the "heter mechira," everything is C - 1, 2 and 3 applies here as well. According to almost all Poskim, after the time of biur has arrived the produce is prohibited to be eaten. The actual purchase of the produce can be a problem since:
- You aren't allowed to "buy" produce that has kedushas Shevi�is.
- You aren't allowed to give a person who is chashud on Shevi�is any money that will have kedushas Shevi�is, which will be the case if you pay cash.
- According to some Poskim, if the person selling the produce relies on the "heter mechira," then there will be no problem with either of the previous issues.
- If you received produce via an "Otzar Beis Din":
- There will be no problem of sefichin, or shamur veneevad.
- The produce will have kedushas Shevi�is and will have to be treated properly.
- Should the produce enter your possession after the time of biur, no biur will have to be done to the produce.
- Should the produce enter your possession before the time of biur, when the time for biur arrives, you will have to be mafkir the produce.
- Should you acquire the produce during the time that is questionable, then you should have in mind not to acquire ownership on the produce.
- All vegetables have kedushas Shevi�is immediately after Rosh HaShona except:
- Artichokes - end of October.
- Barley - end of May.
- Beans - some imported, some end of May.
- Chickpeas - end of May.
- Garlic - middle of March.
- Lentils - end of May.
- Mustard - imported.
- Onion (from the Arava) - end of December.
- Peas - middle of March.
- Potatoes - middle of December.
- Watermelon (from the Arava) - middle of February.
- No fruits have kedushas Shevi�is before Purim except Esrogim.
- No nuts, seeds or wheat products have kedushas Shevi�is before Purim.
- The following vegetables have no isur sefichin before Purim: artichokes, asparagus, banana, beans, chickpeas, garlice, horseradish, lentils, okra, paprika, peas, pineapple, pumpkin, sweet potato, and watermelon (not from Arava). The following are the times for isur sefichin for other vegetables:
- Arum - end of January.
- Beet - end of November.
- Broccoli - middle of December.
- Cabbage (red) - end of December.
- Cabbage (white) - middle of December.
- Carrot - end of February.
- Cauliflower - end of November.
- Celery - end of December.
- Coriander - middle of December.
- Cucumber - middle of November.
- Eggplant - end of January.
- Kohlrabi - middle of November.
- Lettuce - beginning of November.
- Melon - end of December.
- Onion (from Arava) - beginning of January.
- Onion (other) - end of February.
- Parsley - end of December.
- Pepper - end of January.
- Potato - beginning of December.
- Radish - beginning of December.
- Spinach - end of November.
- Squash - middle of November.
- Strawberry - middle of November.
- Tomato - middle of January.
- Turnip - beginning of December.
- Watermelon (Arava) - middle of February.
- Watermelon (other) - beginning of May.
- No nuts, seeds or wheat products have isur sefichin before Purim.
- The following fruit have Kedushas Shevi�is after Pesach:
- Apple - end of June.
- Apricot � end of April.
- Avocado � end of July.
- Cherry � beginning of May.
- Date � end of August.
- Fig � middle of April.
- Grape � Pesach.
- Grapefruit � beginning of August.
- Guava � end of July.
- Kiwi � end of August.
- Lemon � end of April.
- Mango - end of June.
- Nectarine � Pesach.
- Olive � beginning of July.
- Orange � beginning of August.
- Peach � Pesach.
- Pear � middle of May.
- Persimmon � end of August.
- Plum � middle of May.
- Pomegranate � end of July.
- Quince � beginning of July.
- Sabra � middle of May.
- Even after the Shmita year much produce still has special halachos:
- Since kedushas Shevi�is in fruit is determined by chanata, "winter fruit" (citrus fruit, avocado, persimmons, etc.) will be kadosh in the 8th year. The time of biur for most produce will be during the 8th year.
- Vegetables picked in the 8th year have the status of sefichin until enough time as passed for vegetables planted after Shmita to become fully grown. When this time has arrived even those picked earlier may be eaten. They are also mutar if vegetables are imported from abroad. This applies only to those picked during the 8th year, not the 7th. Once Chanukah of the 8th year has arrived, all vegetables picked during the 8th year are permitted to be eaten.
- This applies only to the problem of sefichin, those who are machmir in regard to shamur veneevad will have a problem with certain vegetables even after Chanukah (like: cabbage, pepper, radish, etc). They will have to make certain that the produce was planted in the 8th year.
- Care should be taken when buying canned vegetables to make certain that they are not from the 7th year (and are therefore sefichin).
- The 4 Minim during Shmita.
- Since there are opinions that say that an esrog that was picked in the 7th year has Kedushas Shevi�is, you should get one that was picked in the 6th.
- An esrog that had chanata during the 7th year has Kedushas Shevi�is and should be bought from an Otzar Beis Din. You should be careful to keep all the halachos of Kedushas Shevi�is on it. Some Poskim allow an Otzar Beis Din esrog to be sent abroad.
- If jam was made out of the esrog, biur must be done on it. The time for biur is Shvat (of the 8th). The exact time isn't known and you should do as explained above in the halachos of biur.
- Many Poskim say that nowadays a lulav has no Kedushas Shevi�is.
- Some Poskim say that haddasim have Kedushas Shevi�is and some say that not. If the haddassim have no odor, they certainly don't have Kedushas Shevi�is. Since chanata is what counts, this would apply only to those haddasim bought during the 8th year.
- Arovos don't have Kedushas Shevi�is.
- Flowers during the Shmita year.
- Flowers that have no smell have no Kedushas Shevi�is. Flowers that are grown because of their pleasant smell have Kedushas Shevi�is. Flowers that have a pleasant smell, but are not grown for this reason, have a questionable status as far as Kedushas Shevi�is goes.
- Flowers that grew in places that were not worked or planted during Shmita may be bought without a special hechsher as long as they have no nice smell.
- Flowers that grew in places that were worked or planted during Shmita should not be bought, even if they have no pleasant odor. Some Poskim say that they have the status of sefichin, others are mekil. They may have the problem of shamur veneevad, and, even though there are many Poskim who are mekil in regard to shamur veneevad, this is only in the case of food, not in the case of flowers that you can manage without.
- Flowers that have Kedushas Shevi�is and that began to grow before the 7th year don't have the status of sefichin, but do have Kedushas Shevi�is.
- How "hechsherim" in local Israeli grocery stores work.
- Many "hechsherim" get agricultural produce whose time for Kedushas Shevi�is has not yet arrived, as well as produce that has been stored from the sixth year
- Many get produce from places that have the status of chutz l�aretz and therefore the produce has no Kedushas Shevi�is, such as "bug-less" vegetables from Gush Katif.
- The Badatz writes that their carrots, garlic, onions and potatoes sold at the beginning of the winter are all from sixth year storage, and that those sold after the beginning of the winter will be imported from Western Europe. They write also that from just before Chanukah until Shavuos, their tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, onion, gamba, watermelons, pumpkins, and squash will be brought from the Arava (considered chutz l�aretz).
- The "hechsher" of the Badatz is based on Minhag Yerushalayim, meaning they follow that opinion that agricultural produce that grows on the land owned by non-Jews does not have Kedushas Shevi�is.
- The Badatz also has arranged a list for people to "sign up" similar to the arrangement made with the She�eris hechsher. The "hechsher" of She�eris Yisrael is based on the opinion of the Chazon Ish, that such produce does have the status of Kedushas Shevi�is. Therefore, the grocer is not allowed to "buy and sell" the produce, but is rather appointed as our representative to purchase the produce from the non-Jew. That is the reason that you "sign-up" when you want to purchase the produce that has the She�eris Yisrael, in order to appoint the grocer as your representative.
- A person who follows Minhag Yerushalayim is still free to "buy" from the She�eris "hechsher" and treat the produce as though it didn't have any Kedushas Shevi�is (throw away the peels and food remnants). Obviously, if She�eris should announce that it is bringing produce that grew on land owned by Jews (Otzar Beis Din), this halacha would change.
- According to many Poskim, a person who follows the Chazon Ish is free to buy from the Badatz "hechsher" in the normal manner and treat the produce as he would produce with Kedushas Shevi�is.
I have a question in regards to the status of Yevul Nochri wine. I have learned there is a machlokes among the poskim whether such produce must be treated as having k'dushas sh'vi'is or not. The minhag of Yerushalayim being not to, and the minhag elsewhere to be machmir, is this correct?
Yes. The Chazon Ish is machmir, but minhag Yerushalayim is to be mekel.
I am interested in buying for Pesach wine from Eretz Yisrael labeled Badatz Eidah Charedis, "Yevul Nochri." (Ninveh Red Muscat to be specific, an advantage being that it is not mevushal, which I saw in the M"B is preferable for Arba Kosos.) Should I be machmir to treat this wine as having k'dushas sh'viis?
To be frank, I don't see why someone who lives abroad has to involve himself in the machlokes. For those of use who live here and are faced with the question on a daily basis, it makes sense to rely on the minhag. However, why should someone from abroad want to get involved in the machlokes?
Can I buy the wine l'chatchila in the first place here in Chu"L? (I have not purchased it yet)?
According to many Poskim, those who don't agree with minhag Yerushalayim, no.
Is there any problem in regards to z'man bi'ur?
According to many Poskim, those who don't agree with minhag Yerushalayim, yes: biur should be done in Eretz Yisroel.
There's always a little wine that spills while holding the kos during Birkas Hamazon and Hallel.
Is the proper b'racha Acharona Al pri Hagefen or Al pri Gafnah (since we know its from non-Jewish owned land)?