From the Rav’s Desk: From what stores in Israel may one buy fruits and vegetables now during Shemita

Q&A relating to Shemita

  1. Question: [Sunday 13th Tishrei 5781]

I live in Israel and would like to know if already now I need to avoid buying fruits and vegetables from regular stores, or is this only applicable later on in the year?



You should only buy vegetables and lemons from a Shemita store, which is a store that carries produce that is clear of any issues of Sefichin, Kedushas Shevi’is, and is not under Heter Mechira. Thus, you should look out for a Mehadrin Hashgacha posted by the vegetable section, and if it is under the regular Rabbanut Hashgacha it should not be purchased. Regarding fruits, other than lemons, there is no Shemita issue yet until much later on in the year, although nonetheless it is always advised to purchase it under a Mehadrin Hashgacha due to the issues of Arla and Terum Umaaser.

Explanation: Although the issue of Sefichin with vegetables only becomes relevant after they began growing after Rosh Hashanah, which has yet to occur, nonetheless, all vegetables that are picked now from the fields contain Kedushas Shevi’is and may not be sold regularly, and need to be cared for with special holiness of Shemita. Now, although the Rabbanut relies on the Heter Mechira sale to remove any status of Shemita or Sefichin from the vegetables, nonetheless, this is rejected by majority of Chareidi Jewry and its Rabbanim, and therefore should not be relied upon. Regarding lemons, we are stringent to give them the same status as vegetables to follow the time that they are picked, and therefore one should also avoid buying lemons from a regular store even at this time due to them perhaps containing Kedushas Shevi’is.

Sources: Peas Hashulchan; Halichos Hashevi’is 17:12; Grach Naah p. 11

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