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Charting the Course of Shmitta
Charting the Course of Shmitta 5768
Rabbi Dovid Stein, Star-K Representative in Israel

The mitzvah of shmitta poses many challenges for those who live in Eretz Yisrael.  The main challenge, of course, is for the farmers.  However, the consumer has his challenges, as well.  It is always preferable to purchase produce from stores that have reliable kosher certification to ensure that there are no halachic problems.  If there is no such store available, one must be certain not to transgress the laws of shmitta in the purchase, consumption, or interaction with shmitta produce.  These are the different categories of halachos that one has to take into consideration:

1. Sfichin
2. Kedushas shevi’is
3. Schora (doing business) with shevi’is produce
4. Dmei shevi’is (shevi’is money)

The laws of sfichin refer to a rabbinic prohibition of eating produce that started to grow during the shmitta year,1i.e., the plant started to grow from Rosh Hashanah תשס״ח until תשס״ט .  This is the opinion of the Chazon Ish, the most widely accepted custom among Ashkenazim in Eretz Yisrael.  Regarding grains and legumes, there is a different critical date after which sfichin are not permitted to be eaten.  Obviously, if one wants to buy vegetables he/she must be certain that the vegetables did not start to grow during the shmitta year.  How can one know when the produce began to grow if it is bought in a store that is not under reliable rabbinic supervision?

In order to overcome this problem, charts were developed with the information needed to ascertain whether the produce started to grow during shmitta.   For example, it takes between 58 and 78 days after a tomato seed is planted until it produces its first ripe tomato.  It takes a few more weeks until the new tomato crop constitutes a majority of the tomatoes in the market.  Until that time, we may be able to say “kol deparish meruba parish,and assume that the fruit in question comes from the prevailing majority in the marketplace, which in this case is a non-shevi’is product.  The date on the chart is usually when the majority of the vegetable production is shevi’is (although there are charts that give the date of the first produce on the market).  One should be mindful of the cut-off date for a particular type of produce before buying any fruits or vegetables that might possibly be prohibited for consumption due to sfichin.
Kedushas shevi’is applies to all vegetables picked during the shmitta year.  Picking, lekita, invests the vegetable with kedushas shevi’is when it is picked during the shmitta year.2  Since many vegetables (such as carrots and potatoes) can be stored for relatively long periods of time, most of the produce in the market does not have to be picked during the shmitta year until well after Rosh Hashanah.  The date on the chart for a given vegetable for kedushas shevi’is indicateswhen a particular type of produce was picked during the shmitta year.
Besides the issur of sfichin, there are other issues regarding produce grown during the shmitta year without rabbinic supervision.  The following are a few examples:

Shamur v’neevad:  Some authorities prohibit using produce that was “guarded” (shevi’is produce is supposed to be “hefker,” ownerless, and permitted to be taken by anyone) or upon which non-permissible work was performed during shmitta.  Produce without rabbinic supervision can fall under this category.  The Chazon Ish permitted the use of shamur veneevad b’shaas hadchak (in difficult circumstances).

Schora:  Doing business with shevi’is produce.  One is not permitted to buy in the usual way produce that has kedushas shevi’is (weighing, buying in a regular store, etc.).
Mesiras dmei shevi’is l’am haaretz:  When one buys shevi’is produce for immediate use, the money that is used to pay for the item is imbued with kedushas shevi’is and may be used only to purchase food.  Therefore, it is not permitted to give this money to a storekeeper who will not observe the laws of shevi’is.

There are ways to circumvent the above noted problems.  If one uses a credit card, there is no issue of dmei shevi’is.  If one buys behavlaa (two things together, but paying only for the item that does not have kedushas shevi’is), there may not be a problem of schora.
If one buys produce in stores that have reliable rabbinic supervision, one does not need to refer to the charts.  Produce that has kedushas shevi’is should be marked (sometimes there are codes).  If you do need to use the chart, there is a column indicating when sfichin and kedushas shevi’is end.  Produce that was picked during the shmitta year will always have the application of kedushas shevi’is/sfichin.  Produce picked in the eighth year (תשס״ט ) has kedushas shevi’is/sfichin, either until the new crop starts or until Chanukah (whichever comes first.)

BiurProduce that has kedushas shevi’is can be kept at home only while there is some of the same produce still in the fields.  The column for biur indicates when one must dispose of all the produce (take it outside and make it hefker), after which time it can be taken back inside the house.  If the z’man biur elapsed, and biur was not performed, the produce is forbidden to be eaten.  The times for biur are very inexact, and it is not a good idea to store a lot of produce towards the end of shmitta (less than three meals for the whole family are exempt from the laws of biur).

LAST DATES OF KEDUSHAS SHEVI ’IS, SEFICHIN AND BIUR
The following are ending dates of Kedushas Shevi’is, Sefichin and the dates of Biur.
ITEM

KEDUSHAS SHEVI’IS UNTIL

SEFICHIN UNTIL
BIUR
Almonds
1 Elul 5769
No Sefichin
26 Teves 5769
Apples
18 Iyar 5769
No Sefichin
17 Teves 5769
Apricots
10 Iyar 5769
No Sefichin
19 Tamuz 5768
Artichoke
25 Kislev 5769
No Sefichin3
1 Tamuz 5768
Asparagus
25 Kislev 5769
No Sefichin
No Biur4
Avocado
1 Tamuz 5769
No Sefichin3
1 Av 5769
Banana
25 Kislev 5769
No Sefichin3
No Biur4
Barley
1 Iyar 5769
1 Iyar 5769
1 Kislev 5769
Basil
3 Tishrei 5769
No Sefichin3
No Biur4
Beans
No Kedushah2
No Sefichin2
No Biur2
Beets
20 Kislev 5769
20 Kislev 5769
No Biur4
Blueberries
No Kedushah2
No Sefichin
No Biur2
Broccoli
25 Kislev 5769
25 Kislev 5769
15 Iyar 5768
Butternut Squash
15 Sivan 5769
15 Sivan 5769
15 Tishrei 5769
Cabbage
25 Kislev 5769
25 Kislev 5769
No Biur4
Cabbage (Red)
25 Kislev 5769
25 Kislev 5769
No Biur4
Carob
28 Tishrei 5770
No Sefichin
15 Teves 5769
Carrots
25 Kislev 5769
25 Kislev 5769
No Biur4
Cashews
No Kedushah2
No Sefichin2
No Biur2
Cauliflower
25 Kislev 5769
25 Kislev 5769
No Biur4
Celery
25 Kislev 5769
25 Kislev 5769
No Biur4
Cherries
10 Sivan 5769
No Sefichin
1 Av 5769
Chickpeas
1 Sivan 5769
1 Sivan 5769
11 Kislev 5769
Cinnamon
No Kedushah2
No Sefichin
No Biur2
Coriander
25 Kislev 5769
25 Kislev 5769
No Biur4
Corn (Fresh)
25 Kislev 5769
25 Kislev 5769
No Biur4
Cranberries
No Kedushah2
No Sefichin
No Biur2
Cucumbers
1 Kislev 5769
1 Kislev 5769
No Biur4
Cumin
No Kedushah2
No Sefichin2
No Biur2
Dates
20 Av 5769
No Sefichin
14 Adar 5769
Dill
20 Cheshvan 5769
20 Cheshvan 5769
No Biur4
Eggplant8
25 Kislev 5769
25 Kislev 5769
No Biur4
Esrog7
18 Iyar 5769
No Sefichin
18 Iyar 5769
Fennel
25 Kislev 5769
25 Kislev 5769
1 Shevat 5768
Figs
20 Iyar 5769
No Sefichin
25 Kislev 5769
Garlic
6 Adar 5769
6 Adar 5769
1 Tamuz 5768
Ginger
No Kedushah2
No Kedushah2
No Biur2
Grapefruit
15 Cheshvan 5770
No Sefichin
20 Sivan 5769
Grapes
15 Nisan 5769
No Sefichin
15 Nisan 5769
Grapes for Wine
15 Tamuz 5769
No Sefichin
15 Nisan 5769
Guava
13 Elul 5769
No Sefichin
16 Kislev 5769
Horseradish
25 Kislev 5769
25 Kislev 5769
No Biur4
Hyssop
No Kedushah2
No Sefichin2
No Biur2
Kidney Beans
No Kedushah2
No Sefichin2
No Biur2
Kimmel (caraway seeds)
No Kedushah2
No Sefichin2
No Biur2
Kiwi
15 Elul 5769
No Sefichin
15 Elul 5769
Kohlrabi
25 Kislev 5769
25 Kislev 5769
No Biur4
Lemon
1 Iyar 5769
No Sefichin
1 Tamuz 5769
Lentils
No Kedushah2
No Sefichin2
No Biur2
Lettuce
15 Cheshvan 5769
15 Cheshvan 5769
No Biur4
Litchi 2
10 Sivan
5769 No Sefichin
6 Av 5769
Mango
10 Sivan 5769
No Sefichin
15 Teves 5769
Medlar (Shesek)
7 Adar 5769
No Sefichin
1 Sivan 5768
Melon9
25 Kislev 5769
25 Kislev 5769
No Biur4
Mint
3 Tishrei 5769
No Sefichin3
No Biur4
Mushrooms
Laws of Shmittah are not applicable
Mustard
10 Sivan 5769
10 Sivan 5769
1 Av 5768
Nectarine
1 Adar 5769
No Sefichin
1 Kislev 5769
Oats
No Kedushah2
No Sefichin2
No Biur2
Olives
13 Elul 5769
No Sefichin
6 Sivan 5769
Olive Oil
15 Cheshvan 5770
No Sefichin
6 Sivan 5769
Onions
1 Shevat 5769
1 Shevat 5769
No Biur4
Oranges
15 Cheshvan 5770
No Sefichin
4 Sivan 5769
Paprika
3 Elul 5769
3 Elul 5769
1 Kislev 5769
Parsley
15 Kislev 5769
15 Kislev 5769
No Biur4
Peaches
1 Adar 5769
No Sefichin
1 Kislev 5769
Peanuts
15 Elul 5770
15 Elul 5769
20 Cheshvan 5769
Pears
24 Sivan 5769
No Sefichin
1 Cheshvan 5769
Peas (Dried)
No Kedushah2
No Sefichin
No Biur2
Peas in Pod
25 Kislev 5769
25 Cheshvan 5769
1 Sivan 5768
Pecan11
15 Cheshvan 5770
No Sefichin
10 Iyar 5769
Pepper (Powder B&W)
No Kedushah2
No Sefichin
No Biur2
Pepper (Jalapeno)
25 Kislev 5769
25 Kislev 5769
No Biur4
Peppers10
25 Kislev 5769
25 Kislev 5769
No Biur4
Persimmon
15 Elul 5769
No Sefichin
1 Teves 5769
Pineapple
25 Kislev 5768
No Sefichin
No Biur4
Pistachio
No Kedushah2
No Sefichin
No Biur2
Plums (Euro. Longated)
1 Elul 5769
No Sefichin
20 Cheshvan 5769
Plums (Japanese Round)
22 Iyar 5769
No Sefichin
15 Kislev 5769
Pomegranate
15 Av 5769
No Sefichin
20 Shevat 5769
Pomelo
15 Cheshvan 5770
No Sefichin
20 Sivan 5769
Popcorn
1 Tamuz 5769
1 Tamuz 5769
1 Kislev 5769
Poppy Seeds
No Kedushah2
No Sefichin2
No Biur2
Potatoes
25 Kislev 5769
25 Kislev 5769
No Biur4
Pumpkin
10 Sivan 5769
10 Sivan 5769
1 Kislev 5769
Pumpkin Seeds
No Kedushah2
No Sefichin2
No Biur2
Radish
27 Cheshvan 5769
27 Cheshvan 5769
No Biur4
Radish-Small
8 Cheshvan 5769
8 Cheshvan 5769
No Biur4
Rice
No Kedushah2
No Sefichin2
No Biur2
Sabra
1 Tamuz 5769
No Sefichin
1 Cheshvan 5769
Scallion
1 Kislev 5769
1 Kislev 5769
No Biur4
Sesame
No Kedushah1
No Sefichin1
No Biur1
Soya
No Kedushah2
No Sefichin2
No Biur2
Spelt
No Kedushah2
No Sefichin2
No Biur2
Spinach
23 Cheshvan 5769
23 Cheshvan 5769
No Biur4
Strawberries
25 Kislev 5769
25 Kislev 5769
10 Tamuz 5768
Sugar
No Kedushah2
No Sefichin2
No Biur2
Sunflower Seeds
14 Av 5769
15 Av 5769
11 Kislev 5769
Sweet Potatoes
25 Kislev 5769
25 Kislev 5769
14 Adar II 5768
Tarragon
No Kedushah2
No Sefichin3
No Biur5
Tomatoes
25 Kislev 5769
25 Kislev 5769
No Biur4
Turnip
25 Kislev 5769
25 Kislev 5769
No Biur4
Walnut
No Kedushah2
No Sefichin2
No Biur2
Watermelon
25 Kislev 5769
25 Kislev 5769
No Biur4
Wheat Products6
No Kedushah2
No Sefichin2
No Biur2
Zucchini (Squash)
1 Cheshvan 5769
1 Cheshvan 5769
No Biur4

Information on this list is based on the Shmittah 5768 Guide published by the Council of
Young Israel Rabbis in Israel and the National Council of Young Israel. The Star-K thanks
them for permission to republish this list.

FOOT NOTES FOR CHART

1. Gidulei Nochri – in Israel
2. Imported
3. Multi Year plant
4. Available all year
5. Intended for Flavor Only
6. Most wheat products used in Israel are of imported wheat and not subject to shmittah
laws. This must be ascertained from the baker or from the packaging label.
7. Most esrogim for Succos 5769 (2008) will be available from the crop harvested
through Otzar Beis Din and, therefore, the rules of kedushas shvi’is apply.
8. Most eggplant between Cheshvan and Adar Aleph are from the Southern Aravah and
gentiles.
9. In the winter, most melons are from Southern Aravah.
10. From Kislev until Adar Aleph, grown in areas that may not have been inhabited
during Shivas Tzion.
11. 90% is from Import.

 

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