- Question: [Monday 11th Kisleiv 5782]
We were sitting on the lawn in a city in Israel playing with the grass and plucking it out when someone told us that you can’t do that during shemita. Is this correct?
It is definitely proper to avoid plucking grass during Shemita. Nonetheless, those who are lenient to do so simply out of habit and to calm their nerves to have something to doodle with in their hands, have upon whom to rely, even though in my opinion it is best to be stringent.
Explanation: It is forbidden to do agricultural work during shemita which includes the trimming of trees and plants for the sake of bettering its growth, and the same applies regarding removing dead leaves and the like. Hence, it is definitely proper to avoid plucking grass during Shemita in order to avoid entering a possible prohibition of performing agricultural work, being that the cutting of the blades of grass can be beneficial for the lawn for it to grow back fresher blades. Nonetheless, those who are lenient seemingly have upon whom to rely, as they have zero agricultural intent in what they are doing, and the general rule is that when one is not doing so with an agricultural intent that it is permitted to be done.
Sources: See Mishneh Shevi’is 2:2; Rambam Shemita 1:5 “and do not remove the dry leaves and branches”; Rash Shevi’is 2:2 that one does so doe the sake of lightening the weight on the tree, thus implying that this applies only when one has an agricultural intent in doing so; Tosafos Harosh and Meiri Moed Katan 3; Halichos Hashevi’is 8:12; Derech Emuna 1 Tziyon Halacha 95 and Mishpitei Aretz 4:23 [forbidden]; Shemita Kehilchasa 1:11; Shut Pela Hayoeitz [stulman] 62; [permitted]; Halichos Shevi’is 7:6; 10:6-7