Since observance of the Shemitta or the Shvi’it year can often feel complicated or confusing with various restrictions and practices, WebYeshiva is offering a special free, live, fully interactive 5-part online series, Practical Shemitta: The Kitchen, which will cover the major issues with managing the observance of shemitta in the home and kitchen.
Taught by Rabbi Dovid Fink, starting August 2, the series will look at the sources of the relevant topics and present the practical halacha in each case. WebYeshiva students will gain the knowledge to be ready for observance of Shemitta at home and in the market.
In preparation for the series, WebYeshiva spoke with Rabbi Fink about what he will be teaching and his thoughts on the Shemitta year in general.
1) How important is it to review the practical halachot of shemitta? Isn’t going according a certain hechsher (kosher certification) enough?
In general, following a specific hechsher might be sufficient. But there are important reasons for studying the underlying halachot of shemitta including the following:
- Produce of the shemitta year has kedusha (sanctity). When bringing it into the house, one has to know how to treat it, handle it, and dispose of waste.
- You will not always have the option of relying on a hechsher. At times you will have to deal with issues of shemitta yourself.
- Understanding the underlying decision that a specific hechsher has made in controversial matters will enable you to interact seamlessly with others who follow other hechsherim.
- It’s important to know the halachic advantages and disadvantages of the hetter mechira and otzar beit din.
2) What do you think are the most challenging halachot of shemitta?
Establishing which opinion is embraced by the mainstream and deciding when to follow the strict and when to follow the lenient opinion on controversial issues.
3) Why is it important to study laws of shemitta even if you live abroad?
1. Learning Torah is always a mitzvah.
2. When unable to perform a specific mitzvah, learning about it is second best.
3. Those who live abroad will probably encounter shemitta issues if they visit Israel (post Covid) or if they buy Israeli produce sold abroad. Note that this issue arises with most etrogim sold in Europe and North America.
4. Like every other halacha, the underlying principles of the shemitta year have broad application throughout the length and breadth of Torah.
3) Aside from the dos and don’ts, the practical halachot, what do you feel we are supposed to internalize about the experience of the shemitta year?
The Land and all that is in it is the Lord’s.