Halacha for Tuesday 11 Av 5781 July 20 2021

Adding onto the Sanctity of Shevi’it- 5781/5782

The coming year, 5782, will mark the Shemitta (Sabbatical) year. Although we have not yet begun the Shemitta year, we must nevertheless still discuss some Halachot which are already pertinent.

The Shemitta year begins from this coming Rosh Hashanah and ends upon the onset of the following Rosh Hashanah (5783). All of the agricultural laws of Shemitta which apply to working the land and Shemitta produce take effect at the beginning of the Shemitta year. (The financial laws of Shemitta apply only at the end of the Shemitta year; thus, we shall discuss them, G-d-willing, at the end of next year).

Since the Shemitta year is right around the corner, this is the time that many people in Israel (where the agricultural laws of Shemitta apply) begin preparing their gardens prior to Rosh Hashanah by planting, tilling, and the like, so that they will not require all sorts of work forbidden during Shemitta. This is especially true this year when the Shemitta year is also a leap year (i.e., the Shemitta year will last for thirteen months), a truly rare occurrence.

A Halacha transmitted by tradition from Moshe Rabbeinu dictates that at the time when the Bet Hamikdash stood, it was forbidden to work the land beginning from thirty days before Rosh Hashanah of the Shemitta year. This is what is referred to as “adding onto the sanctity of Shevi’it” which nowadays applies only for a short moment before Rosh Hashanah.

Nevertheless, even nowadays, our Sages prohibited planting a tree less than forty-four days before Rosh Hashanah of the Shemitta year so that people do not suspect one who has done so of having planted during the actual Shemitta year. (This is because with regards to counting years of the Orla cycle, one who plants during this time appears to have actually planted it during the Shemitta year.)

Thus, those in Israel who wish to plant fruit trees in their gardens during this time should make sure to do so by the end of this week, i.e., by the Fifteenth of Av (which will coincide with this coming Shabbat). The only exception to this rule is regarding a sapling which has a mound of dirt surrounding its roots and this dirt will not crumble to pieces when planting it. Such a tree may be planted until right before the end of the year.

The Poskim disagree regarding whether or not non-fruit trees and other flowers may be planted until close to the end of the year. Some say they may only be planted until about two weeks before the end of the year (the Fifteenth of Elul), while others rule leniently and allow them to be planted until just before the end of the year. It is correct to act stringently in this regard wherever possible.

Any work that can be performed on the land from now, before the onset of the Shemitta year, although it may be possible that some of these works may be performed during the Shemitta year itself, should preferably be done now. It is therefore appropriate to adequately fertilize all one’s plants now in a way that it will last for the entire Shemitta year. The same applies to pruning, exterminating, and any other things necessary for one’s garden so that questions do not arise during the Shemitta year.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

The Proper Way to Immerse Vessels in a Mikveh

One must make certain that there is nothing separating between the vessel one is immersing and the waters of the Mikveh. Thus, when one is immersing a vessel, one must hold the vessel loosely, for if one holds it tight, one’s hand will be separating between the vessel and the waters of the Mik......

Read Halacha

Reading Scripture at Night

Question: May one read chapters of Tanach or Tehillim at night or is this forbidden according to Kabbalah? Is there room for leniency when this reading is being done for the sake of an ill individual or a woman in labor? Answer: Maran Ha’Chida in his Responsa Yosef Ometz (Chapter 54) quotes......

Read Halacha

Spiritual Blockage of the Heart

Question: Must one be careful regarding the Kashrut standards of the foods one’s children eat as well? Answer: Regarding any food which is prohibited for consumption by the Torah, such as milk and meat or an impure animal’s milk, it is certainly forbidden to give such foods to childre......

Read Halacha

Question: Is one obligated to wait six hours after eating meat foods before eating dairy foods?

Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Chullin (105a) states: “Mor Ukva said: When my father would eat meat, he would not eat cheese until the next day. Regarding myself, however, within the same meal I do not eat meat and then cheese, but I would eat cheese during the next meal.” The Rif writes......

Read Halacha


Drinking Beverages in a Café or in a Home Where the Vessels have not been Immersed in a Mikveh

Question: May one drink coffee in a friend’s home or in a Café (such as an espresso without milk served in Cafes) when they are not meticulous about immersing their vessels in a Mikveh? Answer: In the Halachot discussed before Tisha Be’av, we have explained that vessels produc......

Read Halacha

Question: Do disposable vessels and electric kettles require immersion in a Mikveh?

Answer: In the previous Halachot, we have discussed the general law that any new vessels purchased from a non-Jew must be immersed in a Mikveh before using them. We shall now discuss whether or not disposable vessels require immersion. We have already explained that according to Maran zt”l,......

Read Halacha

Eating Dairy Items after Eating Poultry

In the previous Halacha we have discussed in general the law that one must wait six hours after eating meat before eating dairy foods either because the nature of meat is to get stuck between one’s teeth or because meat gives off a taste in one’s mouth for a prolonged amount of time. ......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Fire on Yom Tov

In previous Halachot we have explained that Yom Tov and Shabbat are equal regarding all prohibitions besides for certain works associated with food preparation, such as cooking, which are permitted on Yom Tov. Igniting a Flame One may not produce a new fire on Yom Tov, for instance by striking a......

Read Halacha