In the beginning of the Shemitta year (the current year, 5775), we have explained the primary laws of Shevi’it. We have explained that there are several laws which apply to fruits and vegetables grown during the Shemitta year.
Elimination of Shevi’it Produce, In Israel and Abroad
Let us now discuss the laws of elimination of Shevi’it produce. We should point out that this law applies to both the residents of Israel and abroad; many people transgress this law due to a lack of knowledge. Additionally, some people have wine at home from the previous Shemitta year (5768 or even from the one before that, 5761) and they must be informed about how to treat such wine.
The following laws apply to the entire Shemitta year as well as to the eighth year, the year following Shevi’it. We must therefore be fluent in them, especially during this time.
To Which Fruits the Laws of Elimination of Shevi’it Produce Apply
Firstly, the laws of elimination of Shevi’it produce apply only to fruits which retain the sanctity of Shevi’it, i.e. fruits which grew on the land of a Jew in Israel during Shevi’it. However, fruits of the sixth year (even if they were harvested during Shemitta), fruits of non-Jewish fields, fruits from outside of Israel, or fruits of “Heter Mechira” do not retain the sanctity of Shevi’it and need not be eliminated.
Elimination of Shevi’it Produce
The Torah states regarding Shevi’it produce, “And the Shabbat of the land shall be for you to eat, for you, your servant, and your maidservant; and for your hired worker and your resident who dwell among you. And for your domesticated animal and for the beast in the field shall its produce be for food.” Our Sages (Pesachim 52b) that since the verse uses the words “and for your domesticated animal and the beast,” this means that the Torah wanted their law to be similar in that as long as the beast still eats in the field, one may feed his domesticated animal at home and if it ceases for the beast in the field, one must cease feeding it to one’s animal at home as well.
This means that the Torah teaches us that one may only eatShevi’it produce when this specific fruit is still available for the beast in the field as well. However, as soon as this species of fruit is no longer available in the field, it must be eliminated from one’s possession as well and it may not be eaten.
For example, figs that grow during the Shevi’it year are no longer available in orchards in the field beginning from Chanukah of the eighth year (approximately one year from now). Thus, if one has figs at home, one may eat them as much as he wishes. However, once Chanukah of the eighth year arrives when figs are no longer available in the field, one may no longer eat them at home either even if one has taken them several days before Chanukah, for from the time animals in the field can no longer eat this species of fruit, one may not eat this fruit at home either.
Every kind of fruit has its own special time for when it must be eliminated by. (There are likewise fruits and vegetables about which there is a doubt when they must be eliminated by.) We shall discuss this matter at length in following Halachot, G-d-willing.
The time when most fruits must be eliminated by is during the eighth year, i.e. next year, 5776. There are fruits, however, that must be eliminated by this year, 5775, such as the loquat fruit (a kind of orange plum grown in Israel known as “Shesek” in Hebrew) whose season is very short and requires elimination by approximately Sivan of 5775.
Regarding vegetables, in previous years, each vegetable’s time of elimination was based on its season at various times during theShemitta year. However, nowadays, there are vegetables which grow all year round, such as tomatoes, and therefore do not require elimination at all.
In the next Halacha we shall broaden this topic further and discuss the proper method of eliminating Shevi’it produce.