7. To what land locations does Shemita apply to?

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7. To what land locations does Shemita apply to?[1]

The Mitzvah of Shemita only applies in Eretz Yisrael.[2] Furthermore the Mitzvah is only Biblically applicable to the areas of Eretz Yisrael that were sanctified upon the return of the exiles from Bavel to Eretz Yisrael in the times of Ezra.[3] Certain sections of Eretz Yisrael that were originally sanctified, were not re-sanctified by the return of Ezra with the Babylonian exile and hence remained desolate of its previous Holiness, and Shemita does not Biblically apply in those regions [even in times that the other Biblical Shemita conditions are met].[4] Nevertheless, even these sections of land are Rabbinically obligated in Shemita.[5] Many sections of land in the current state of Israel were never sanctified either during Babylonian or Egyptian conquest of the land and therefore such areas remain completely exempt from Shemita laws even from a Rabbinical level. Practically, it is disputed amongst today’s Poskim as to the exact area of land that does not carry Kedushas Shevi’is. Some Poskim hold that the entire south of Israel beginning from a few kilometers south of Bier Sheva is not included within the laws of Shemita. This area is known as the “Arava.” Practically produce from these areas are not treated with Kedushas Shevi’is and do not contain the Sefichin prohibition.

The Golan heights:[6] It is disputed amongst the Poskim of today as to the status of the Golan heights. The Rishonim dispute as to whether the area called Sura and Eiver Hayrden was conquered by Olei Bavel. However, some understand that the Ramat Hagolan is part of the Galilee, which is fully part of Eretz Yisrael, having been conquered by both the exiles of Bavel and Eretz Yisrael.[7] Practically, the custom today in the settlements of the Golan is like this opinion, to treat its land with full Kedushas Shevi’is just like Eretz Yisrael.[8]


[1] See Mitzvas HaShemita chapter 2; Encyclopedia Talmudit Vol. 2 p. 205-212 [Erech Eretz Yisrael]

[2] Rambam 4:25

[3] Rambam Terumos 1:5

[4] See Yevamos 16a; Rambam 4:26

[5] Rambam 4:26

[6] See Admas Kodesh p. 13 and Tevuos Ha’aretz p. 71 that the entire Ramat Hagolen, and Hermon mountains were conquered by the exile from Egypt. However, regarding the Babylonian exile the matter is disputed amongst Rishonim [See Rambam versus Raavad Shemita Veyovel 4:28, that the Rambam implies that it was conquered also by Olei Bavel and the Raavad argues that it was not] Practically, we rule that it is considered to be conquered by Olei Bavel and contains Kedushas Shevi’is. [Tashbeitz 3:198-200]; See Or Letziyon Shevi’is Shut 6:1 in Biurim [p. 76-78] that the Golan follows the ruling of Rambam ibid regarding Ever Hayarden and Sura, that it does not have the Sefichin prohibition, but contains Kedushas Shevi’is; See Halichos Hashevi’is 47:9

[7] Rav Shaul Yisraeli

[8] Halichos Hashevi’is 47:9 that so we rule Lechumra

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