Insights into Halacha

For the week ending 24 January 2015 / 4 Shevat 5775

Kedushas Sheviis Produce

by Rabbi Yehuda Spitz
Shemitta Basics - Part 2
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

One of the most imperative aspects of observing Shemitta concerns the proper treatment of produce that has Kedushas Sheviis, Shemitta sanctity. Not a simple task; the halachos governing these ‘holy’ fruits are many and quite complicated[1]. Although most know that all standard produce grown in Eretz Yisrael during the Shemittah year is actually halachically hefker, considered ownerless, nonetheless, that important detail is only ‘the tip of the iceberg’. There are rules governing the growing, picking, acquiring, eating, how long it may be kept in your house, and even the disposing of these Peiros Sheviis[2]. This article sets out to address some of the lesser known aspects of these halachos.

Which Fruits Are Which?

First of all, it is important to note that not every fruit that one acquires during Sheviis has Kedushas Sheviis. For example, if it were picked in the sixth year (Shishis), it would have no Kedushas Sheviis, and can be eaten regularly, even if bought during Shemitta.

An additional factor in determining whether or not the produce will contain Kedushas Sheviis would depend on the type of crop. Generally speaking, although the Shemitta year starts and ends on Rosh Hashana, nevertheless, the deciding factor determining Kedushas Sheviis for fruits is that it follows its Chanata, blossoming, when it is first considered edible, roughly when the fruit is one-third grown[3]. Any fruit that reaches this stage prior to the onset of Shemittah does not have Kedushas Sheviis, even if acquired during Shemittah. On the other hand, Kedushas Sheviis for vegetables follows its picking, Lekita, regardless of when they started to grow[4]. Kedushas Sheviis for most legumes, as well and olives, grapes, and the five grains, is determined by when they are one-third grown, no matter when actually picked, plucked, or procured[5]. The Kedushas Sheviis status of rice, millet, poppy seed and sesame, on the other hand, follows when it is fully ripened[6].

Kedusha Customs

One of the interesting halachos pertaining to fruits with Kedushas Sheviis is that they may not be taken out of Eretz Yisrael[7]. Additionally, one may not give Kedushas Sheviis fruit to a non-Jew[8], nor to utilize such produce, if fit for human consumption, for a medicinal or health related purpose[9], or even to feed animals[10]. Another important rule is that these ‘holy’ fruits must be treated with respect, and even the leftovers and residue must be disposed of in a proper manner, not simply dumped in the trash. A separate Pach Sheviis, a clean place where the food waste is left until decaying, is preferred. After that, the waste matter may be transferred, wrapped, into a garbage can[11]. A sixth fascinating and unique halacha pertaining to Kedushas Sheviis fruits is that they are subject to the law of Biur. This term refers to taking said produce out of the house to a public place and giving up all rights to the fruit. Every type of fruit has its own specific Zman Biur, time of year when this must be performed, as it depends on when each species of fruit is no longer commonly available in the fields[12].

Kedusha Crop Consumption

What is interesting is that Chazal gleaned all of these halachos from several pesukim in Parshas Behar. The Torah states (Vayikra Ch. 25, 6 & 7) referring to the Shemitta year, “V’haysa Shabbos Ha’aretz Lachem L’achla…V’livhemtacha V’lechaya Asher B’artzecha Tihiyeh Kol Tevuasa Le’echol - And the Resting of the Land should be for you to eat… and for your domesticated animals and the wild animals in your fields, all the produce should be for consumption”.

Chazal derive several essential Shemitta halachos pertaining to preserving the sanctity of Kedushas Sheviis produce of from these verses:

  1. L’achla- for you to eat, and not for hefsed, letting go to waste. In other words, one may not needlessly waste fruits containing Kedushas Sheviis. This is why one may not throw the Peiros Sheviis directly into a garbage can or rubbish bin. (Pesachim 52b)
  2. L’achla- for you to eat, and not for sechora, merchandise or commercial use[13]. One may not purchase Kedushas Sheviis fruits in the normal manner. (Avodah Zarah 62a; see also Mishnayos Sheviis Ch. 8, Mishna 3)

  3. L’achla- for you to eat, and not for refuah (or melugma), or medicinal purposes. This is why one may not use regular edible Shemitta produce as a bandage or poultice. (Sukka 40a and Bava Kamma 102a; see also Mishnayos Sheviis Ch. 8, Mishna 1)

  4. Lachem- for you, and not for a non-Jew. A good reason not to gift your non-Jewish doctor with a nice bottle of Shemitta wine. (Sifra, Parshas Behar Ch. 25, 6)

  5. V’livhemtacha V’lechaya Asher B’artzecha Tihiyeh Kol Tevuasa Le’echol - animals may consume Kedushas Sheviis produce by themselves (ex. their taking such fruits off the tree and eating), but one may not actively feed them such food that is fit for human consumption. (See Mishnayos Sheviis Ch. 8, Mishna 1 and Rambam, Hilchos Shemitta VeYovelos Ch. 5, 5)[14]

  6. B’artzecha - in your land, and not in Chutz La’aretz. Meaning that Kedushas Sheviis produce may not be taken out of Eretz Yisrael. (Mishnayos Sheviis Ch. 6, Mishna 5; see commentaries ad loc. - some maintain that this is Derabbanan)

  7. V’lechaya Asher B’artzecha -the fact that the Torah stressed thatShemittah produce is also relevant to wild animals teaches us that one may partake of such produce in his own home, but only as long as it is still available to the animals in the wild. After that time, one must remove such produce from his home and relinquish all property rights to the fruit. As mentioned previously, this action is known as Biur. (Taanis 6b, Pesachim 52b, Nida 51b)

Achilas Mitzva?

Another interesting inference made by a minority opinion from the above pesukim is that Lachem L’achla, for you to eat,is teaching us that there is an actual Mitzva encumbent upon us (Mitzva Chiyuvis) to partake of Kedushas Sheviis produce. Although not the actual halacha, there are still those who maintain that one does indeed fulfill a Mitzva by eating fruit imbued with Shemitta sanctity (Mitzva Kiyumis) even though he is under no obligation to eat specifically that fruit. According to this opinion, if one can ensure that all Shemittah halachos are being strictly adhered to (including proper disposal of remains), and has the option to choose a Shemitta fruit or a similar non-Shemitta fruit, it seems that there would be a preference to do so[15]. Just one of the fringe benefits of living in Eretz Yisrael, the King’s Courtyard.

Note: This article is not intended to serve as an exhaustive guide, but rather to showcase certain aspects of the intricate and myriad halachos of produce imbued with Kedushas Sheviis. Many other relevant halachos of Peiros Sheviis will IY”H be addressed at length in future articles.

This article was written L'iluy Nishmas R’ Chaim Baruch Yehuda ben Dovid Tzvi, L’Refuah Sheleimah for R’ Shlomo Yoel ben Chaya Leah, Henna Rasha bas Yitta Ratza and Rochel Miriam bas Dreiza Liba, and l’zechus Yaacov Tzvi ben Rivka and Shira Yaffa bas Rochel Miriam v’chol yotzei chalatzeha for a yeshua sheleimah teikif u’miyad!

For any questions, comments or for the full Mareh Mekomos / sources, please email the author: yspitz@ohr.edu.

Rabbi Yehuda Spitz serves as the Sho’el U' Meishiv and Rosh Chabura of the Ohr Lagolah Halacha Kollel at Yeshivas Ohr Somayach in Yerushalayim.



[1] Tosafos (Sukka 39a s.v. she’ain). See also the introduction to the Chochmas Adam’s sefer on Mitzvos Hateluyos Ba’aretz, Shaarei Tzedek, as to the importance of properly learning the halachos of Eretz Yisrael, the King’s Courtyard. In fact, according to the well-known Gemara in Sota 14a, being able to keep these special Mitzvos is the very reason why Moshe Rabbeinu wanted to come to Eretz Yisrael!

[2] Many of these topics will IY”H be addressed at length in future articles in this series.

[3] See Mishna Bikkurim (Ch. 2, Mishna 6), Gemara Rosh Hashana (13b; and Rashi and Tosafos ad loc 12b), Rambam (Hilchos Shemitta VeYovelos Ch. 4, 9), Shulchan Aruch (Y”D 331, 125 and 126), Chazon Ish (Sheviis 7, 12), and Derech Emunah (Hilchos Shemitta VeYovelos Ch. 4, 86). Another understanding of this term is the first blossoming of the fruit after its flower has fallen off.

[4] Gemara Rosh Hashana (13b - 14b). See Tosafos (ad loc s.v. achar and on Sukka 39b s.v. ul’Sheviis), Rambam (Hilchos Shemitta VeYovelos Ch. 4, 12), Ra”sh (Sheviis Ch. 5, 3; Ch. 6, 4; Ch. 9, 1), and Chazon Ish (Sheviis 14, 9 s.v. u’veteshuvos). Another understanding of this term is when it stops growing and fit to be picked, even if not yet actually picked. However, it is important to note that vegetables that started growing during Shemitta may not be consumed at all, due to the Rabbinic prohibition of Sefichin. See Mishnayos Sheviis (Ch. 9, Mishna 1), Rambam (Hilchos Shemitta VeYovelos Ch. 4, 2), and Sefer HaChinuch (Parshas Behar, Mitzvah 328; see also Minchas Chinuch, Mitzva 329, 5). This will be IY”H addressed at length in a future article.

[5] Gemara Rosh Hashana (12b - 13b), Rashi and Tosafos (12b s.v. v’hazeisim), Tosefta (Sheviis Ch. 2, 10), Yerushalmi (Sheviis Ch. 2, Halacha 5), Rambam (Hilchos Shemitta VeYovelos Ch. 4, 9), Chazon Ish (Sheviis 7, 15 s.v. tevuah).

[6] See Mishnayos Sheviis (Ch. 2, Mishna 7), Gemara Rosh Hashana (13b), Rambam (Hilchos Shemitta VeYovelos Ch. 4, 11), Ritva (Rosh Hashana 13a), Tosafos Yeshanim (Rosh Hashana 13b), Bartenura (Sheviis Ch. 2, Mishna 7), Chazon Ish (Sheviis 7, 19 s.v. orez), and Derech Emunah (Hilchos Shemitta VeYovelos Ch. 4, 79). There is some debate among the Rishonim cited about whether the Mishna was referring to the rice et al. being fully ripened (gemar pri) or taken root (hashrasha) to contain Kedushas Sheviis. The halacha follows the former opinion, which is the Rambam’s shitta.

[7] Mishnayos Sheviis (Ch. 6, Mishna 5), Tosefta (Sheviis Ch. 5, 1), Rambam (Hilchos Shemitta VeYovelos Ch. 5, 13), Ridbaz (commentary on Pe’as Hashulchan, Sheviis, Ch. 5, 18), Chazon Ish (Sheviis 13, 4), and Shemittah Kehilchasa (Ch. 3, 17),

[8] Tosefta Sheviis (Ch. 5, 14), Rambam (Hilchos Shemitta VeYovelos Ch. 5, 13), Chazon Ish (Sheviis, 10, 14 & 13, 26), Derech Emunah (Hilchos Shemitta VeYovelos Ch. 5, 103), Shemittah Kehilchasa (Ch. 3, 17), and Mishpatei Aretz (21, 16). See also Shu”t Igros Moshe (Y”D vol. 3, 124, 1), who qualifies this prohibition, explaining that once the produce is no longer fit for regular human consumption it certainly may be given to a non-Jew. He avers that this halacha cannot be any more severe than the one regarding animals.

[9] Mishnayos Sheviis (Ch. 8, Mishna 1), Gemara Sukka (40a) and Bava Kamma (102a), Yerushalmi (Sheviis Ch. 8, Halacha 2), Rambam (Hilchos Shemitta VeYovelos Ch. 5, 10 & 11), Pe’as Hashulchan (24, 14 & 17), Minchas Chinuch (Parshas Behar, Mitzva 329, 6), Chazon Ish (13, 6 & 7).

[10] Tosefta Sheviis (Ch. 5, 13), Rambam (Hilchos Shemitta VeYovelos Ch. 5, 5), and Raavad (Toras Kohanim, Parshas Behar). See also Mishnayos Sheviis (Ch. 8, Mishna 1) and the Bartenura’s commentary ad loc.

[11] See Chazon Ish (Sheviis 14, 10), Derech Emunah (Shemitta V’Yovel Ch. 5, 13), Shemittah K’Hilchasah (Ch. 3, 3), Mishpatei Aretz (Ch. 23, 1), and Dinei Sheviis Hashalem (5775, Ch. 16, Sheirios 1). However, if stuck, one may wrap the leftovers nicely and place directly in a garbage can.

[12] See Yerushalmi (Sheviis Ch. 9, Halacha 3), Rashi (Parshas Mishpatim, Ch. 23, 11 s.v. v’nitashta & Yoma 83a s.v. tevel), Tosafos (Pesachim 52b s.v. ad and Chulin 12b s.v. heicha), Rambam (Hilchos Shemitta VeYovelos Ch. 7, 1), Raavad (ad loc. Halacha 3), Ramban (Parshas Behar Ch. 25, 7), Minchas Chinuch (Parshas Behar, Mitzvah 329, 7), Shaarei Tzedek (17, 4), Pe’as Hashulchan (27), Pnei Yehoshua (Pesachim 52b), Aruch Hashulchan HaAsid (Hilchos Shemittah V’Yovel 27, 2), Beis Ridbaz (Sheviis Ch. 12, 7), and Chazon Ish (Shemittah 11, 6). There is some debate among the Rishonim cited (and in the Acharonims’ understandings of the Rishonims’ shittos) whether the Mitzva of Biur is D’oraysa or Derabbanan.

[13] If so, how may one acquire produce during Shemittah? IY”H this will be addressed at length in an upcoming article.

[14] The Aruch Hashulchan (HaAsid, Hilchos Shemittah V’Yovel 24, 11) adds another diyuk from the pasuk to prove this - Lachem - for you, and not for an animal, akin to Chazal’s diyuk of the same words regarding Hilchos Yom Tov (see Gemara Beitzah 21a).

[15] The Megillas Esther on the Ramban’s additions to the Rambam’s Sefer HaMitzvos (Mitzvas Asei 3) writes that he understood the Ramban to mean that he held eating Kedushas Sheviis produce is a Mitzva Chiyuvis. However, most other authorities disagree with his assessment, maintaining that there is no Mitzva to specifically consume Shemittah produce. In fact, many other poskim, most notably the Chazon Ish (Sheviis 14, 10, s.v. v’lamdanu; based on the Tosefta Sheviis Ch. 6, 1), understand that the Ramban would agree with this as well. See also Aruch Hashulchan HaAsid (Hilchos Shemittah V’Yovel 24, 6), Derech Emunah (Hilchos Shemitta VeYovelos Ch. 5, 2 and Biur Halacha ad loc.), Mishmeres HaSheviis Ch. 15, footnote 37), and Sefer Dinei Sheviis Hashalem (Ch. 16, 1). However, see Toras HaAretz (vol. 1, 8, 26) and Shu”t Shevet HaLevi (vol. 4, 232, 4; printed at the end of the sefer), who nevertheless maintain that one still fulfills a Mitzva Kiyumis upon consuming Peiros Sheviis. See also Kovetz M’Bais Levi (vol. 16, pg. 34, footnote 3) who posits that based on this and with all other factors being equal, it is preferable to eat a fruit containing Kedushas Sheviis than eating one that does not, especially if by choosing the other one, the ‘holy’ fruit might not get eaten.


Disclaimer: This is not a comprehensive guide, rather a brief summary to raise awareness of the issues. In any real case one should ask a competent Halachic authority.


L'iluy Nishmas the Rosh HaYeshiva - Rav Chonoh Menachem Mendel ben R' Yechezkel Shraga, Rav Yaakov Yeshaya ben R' Boruch Yehuda, and l'zchus for Shira Yaffa bas Rochel Miriam and her children for a yeshua teikef u'miyad!

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