Rabbi Nechemya Taylor
Torani Advisor to Torah Miztion
In the previous section, we discussed the prohibition against taking peyrot shvi’it (shmita produce) to chu”l, and we introduced a number of related questions:
1. Does the prohibition apply to the one removing the fruit from Eretz Yisrael or to the one receiving it in chutz la’aretz?
2. If the fruit was removed, what is its status? May it be consumed? Does it have kedushat shvi’it and therefore must be treated accordingly?
The Gemara (BT Pesachim 52b) states:
“Rav Safra went out of Eretz Yisrael into chutzah la’aretz. With him was a keg of shvi’it wine.”
The Tosafot (ibid) asks:
“The Riva asked that we learned in the [Mishna in Masechet] Shviit (6:5),
‘One may not remove shemen s’raifah [trumah oil that has become tamei and is to be burnt] and peyrot shvi’it from the Land to chutz la’aretz.’”
In other words, the prohibition applies to the produce’s removal rather than to the produce’s receipt abroad. Similarly, in reference to etrogs which are exported to chu”l, the Igrot Moshe (Orach Chayim 5:42) writes:
“And in terms of the prohibition of removing to chutz la’aretz which falls on those who remove [the fruit], this does not affect those who receive [the fruit].”
Likewise, the Chazon Ish (10:6) rules:
“If the etrogs are sent to chu”l, this falls under the category of one may not remove peyrot shvi’it to chu”l. Nonetheless, the fruits are not forbidden and can be used to fulfill [the mitzvah of etrog].”
The above ruling is based on the Rambam (7:12) who discusses fruit that was exported to chu”l:
“And the fruit of the Land which were removed to chutzah la’aretz undergo biur (literally, elimination) locally and should not be transferred from place to place.”
In other words, all the laws of kedushat shvi’it – such as biur – apply to these fruit, but they can be consumed and used. Therefore, etrogs which were brought to chu”l can be used for the mitzvah – as long as all the laws of kedushat shvi’it are observed. Hence, when purchasing an Israeli etrog or fruit in chu”l, one should ensure that the price of the lulav absorbs the etrog’s cost and that some other purchase covers the cost of the fruit. (See BT Succah 39a.)
However, we must emphasize that exporting this fruit is still prohibited, as stated in the above Mishna.
The above Tosafot provides two explanations for Rav Safra’s conduct:
“And he explained that there [i.e. in the Mishna] it is talking about achilah (eating). But Rav Safra went out for sechorah (commerce), because there is [a type of] sechorah which is permitted. Or, he removed it b’shogeg (unintentionally).”
According to the latter explanation, Rav Safra erred and accidentally took payrot shvi’it to chu”l. The Pe’at HaShulchan (24:56) concurs with this explanation.
In contrast, the former explanation – which is also cited by Tosfot HaRosh and Tosfot HaRashba (i.e. the French Rash M’Shantz, the Rash Al HaMishnayot) – leaves us with another question: Why would it be prohibited to remove the fruit for achilah but permitted to do so for sechorah?
The Chazon Ish (Shvi’it 13:4) addresses this issue and concludes that our version of the Tosafot contains a printing error. According to the Chazon Ish, Rav Safra actually intended to eat the fruit, while the prohibition pertains to selling the fruit. Thus, the Chazon Ish holds that a person can take payrot shvi’it with him to chu”l – if he plans on eating the fruit. But he is forbidden to remove the fruit for sechorah, lest he come to sell the fruit to non-Jews or to individuals who are not familiar with the laws of shvi’it – as we discussed in the previous article.
However, assuming that our version of the Tosafot is correct, why would exporting payrot shvi’it for sechorah be permitted but export for achilah is forbidden? Rav Yaakov Ariel (Techumin 7) explains that sechorah is not forbidden per se. Rather, one who sells payrot shvi’it is, in effect, negating the fruit’s designated purpose: achilah. The Torah specifies that the fruit are “l’ochlah vilo l’sechorah” (for eating, not for commerce). Therefore, since the Tosafot (BT Succah 39a) rule that only the picker himself may not sell the fruit – the pasuk, “And the Shabbat of the land shall be yours to eat,” (Vayikra 25:6) proves that he is required to eat the fruit – he may not pick in order to eat the fruit in chu”l. After all, doing so would violate the Torah’s order that payrot shvi’it are intended to be consumed by the residents of Eretz Yisrael. Yet, when one person does the picking and a second person does the selling or the exporting, the Torah’s edict has not been violated; at the time of picking, the fruit was still designated to be eaten by the residents of Eretz Yisrael.
We have thus learned the following:
1. There is no prohibition against receiving payrot shvi’it in chu”l.
2. The laws of kedushat shvi’it – including biur – apply in chu”l as well.
3. According to the Chazon Ish’s version of the Tosafot, a person may take payrot shvi’it to chu”l for achilah.
4. According to the Tosafot in Pesachim, someone other than the owner of the field may sell payrot shvi’it in chu”l.
5. There are numerous opinions about exporting payrot shvi’it to chu”l for sechorah. (See the conclusion of the above cited article by the Gaon Rav Yaakov Ariel shlita for further details.)