Halacha Date: 5 Cheshvan 5782 October 11 2021
In the previous Halachot we have explained that fruits and vegetables that grow in fields owned by Jews in Israel during the Shemitta year retain the sanctity of Shevi’it. We have also explained that one may not cause loss or destruction to the fruits of Shevi’it.
Peeling Shevi’it Produce
One may peel fruits and vegetables which retain Shevi’it sanctity the same way one would on other years and one need not make sure not to peel off small amount of the fruit along with the peel. Nevertheless, one must make sure to peel only fruits which are usually eaten peeled, such as bananas, melons, cucumbers, apples, and the like. However, fruits and vegetables usually eaten with their peel, such as tomatoes, apricots, and the like, may not be peeled.
It is likewise permissible to peel of rotten parts of the fruit with a knife although doing so will inevitably cause a small portion of the good part of the fruit to be peeled off as well.
We have already discussed that fruits which have become so inedible that even animals would not eat them do not retain the sanctity of Shevi’it.
Thus, if peels of Shevi’it fruits and vegetables taste so awful that even animals would not eat them, such as kiwi or onion peels, they do not retain the sanctity of Shevi’it and they may be discarded in the trash.
On the other hand, most fruit and vegetable peels are fit for consumption by animals, such as cucumber, apple, and pear peels; thus, they must be kept according to the Shevi’it sanctity they retain and they may not be disposed of in the trash, for doing so would constitute causing a loss to Shevi’it produce. Rather, one must keep them in a designated place (such as within a plastic bag) and allow them to rot until they are no longer fit for animal consumption in which case their Shevi’it sanctity will no longer apply and they may then be discarded in the trash. (This is because by doing so, one is not causing a direct loss to Shevi’it produce; one is merely causing them indirect loss and this is indeed permissible.)
Alternatively, if one wishes, one may discard such peels in the trash when they are closed well in a plastic bag such that one will not be inflicting a direct loss upon Shevi’it produce. All of the above applies only to the fruits, vegetables, or peels of Shevi’it which are still fit for animal consumption; however, peels and shells which are unfit for even animal consumption, such as the shells of sunflower seeds, apricot pits, and the like, even when they retain some of the fruits juice and moisture, they may be discarded into the trash as is.
Pits of Shevi’it Produce
Just as the peels of Shevi’it produce retain the sanctity of Shevi’it if they are fit for animal consumption, the same applies to fruit pits in that if they are fit for animal consumption, they should be treated with the sanctity of Shevi’it and they may not be discarded directly into the trash. Rather, they should be placed in a plastic bag, as we have mentioned above.
Water in Which Shevi’it Produce Was Cooked
Water in which Shevi’it produce was cooked, such as a vegetable soup, retains the sanctity of Shevi’it and one may not cause it loss or destruction. Nevertheless, regarding water in which potatoes were cooked, since potatoes have a bland taste, such water retains no Shevi’it sanctity.
Flowers During Shevi’it
Flowers of Shevi’it retain no sanctity of Shevi’it whatsoever. Nevertheless, one cannot tend to their growth and one may only perform the permissible forms of work as they grow. This matter should be taken into great consideration so that such prohibitions may be avoided.