Sunday, December 19, 2021

The Myth of Shmitta LeChumra

It's widely known that stringencies in one area of Jewish law can involve leniencies in other areas of Jewish law. For example, being stringent about the sin of lashon hara can often involve being lenient about the sin of Lo sa'amod al dam reyecha.

Shmittah is no exception. Four shmittah cycles ago, I asked Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach about eating at the home of a relative who relied on leniencies regarding the laws of Shmittah. His response was that if I refrained from eating at their home, I would be committing the much bigger problem of being lenient about the laws of interpersonal relationships.

But actually, shmittah provides an even more striking situation. Because, notwithstanding how various organizations and institutions and individuals proudly proclaim that they are observing "shemittah lechumra," there is no agreement about what that actually means.

For some people, shmittah lechumra means altogether avoiding concerns about produce grown in the Land of Israel, and instead only buying from abroad, which usually means from Arabs. But for others, this is a serious Torah sin of failing to support one's fellow Jews and instead supporting our enemies.

For others, shmittah lechumrah means avoiding heter mechirah and using Otzar Beis Din. But Rav Eliezer Melamed persuasively argues that Otzar Beis Din is not just a legal fiction but a legal fantasy.

For yet others, shmittah lechumrah means avoiding Otzar Beis Din and using heter mechirah. But others claim that selling the land undermines the idea of shmittah and is of questionable validity.

Rav Aharon Lichtenstein lamented many years ago that in the modern era, there is simply no ideal way to observe Shmittah. It would be beneficial if people would bear that in mind, and it would help us be more respectful of the ways that other people decide to observe it.

71 comments:

  1. Fine, but did not R Mendelson and others experience special Hashgachah?

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  2. The fact that most MO like to ignore is that Rav Kook ZT"L was very unhappy with the Heter Mechira. See for example Igrot haReiyah, vol. 1, (Jerusalem: Mossad Harav Kook, 5722– 1962), letter 207, p.258. where he inclines against the Heter altogether. Approaching the Shemittah year 5670 (1909-10) a lot of pressure was put on him to give a Heter Mechirah – the pressure was so much that he said that “if a Yeshivah in
    Jerusalem were to give him… [a stipend] each month he would leave his position [as the Rabbi of Jaffa] because of the Shemittah problem, and go and learn in the Yeshivah. see Bet Ridbaz.
    However, because of the critical economic situation , he finally gave a
    Heter. We can see from his letters that it was given with great reluctance: and “my
    heart aches continually because of this priceless Mitzvah,” see Igrot haReiyah vol. 2, letter 555, p.184.
    He called it a "heter given in strained circumstances" see Ibid, letter 236, p.283, vol. 2, letter 400, p.57.
    He also said it was a "temporary measure” see Ibid., vol. 1, letter 177, p.227, vol. 2, letter 555, p.184.
    and “that anyone who wishes not to work the land at all during the Shemittah year is to be praised". Ibid., vol. 1, letter 236, p.283.
    There is no doubt he would not allow it today.

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    1. Actually, Rav Melamed presents several arguments that Rav Kook would equally allow it today, especially given the alternatives. See https://ph.yhb.org.il/16-07-11/

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    2. What's your point? Are you arguing with the summation of this post, " in the modern era, there is simply no ideal way to observe Shmittah."? Or are you agreeing?

      "There is no doubt he would not allow it today."
      Speculation. Are there still may secular farmers, whom if not giving the option of the היתר, would simply ignore שמיטה? Is the economic situation impervious to the effects of halting farming for a year? Where did you get this optimistic prognosis from- a real economist, or from a Kupat Ha'Ir flyer? Are you aware that the היתר itself is not the same היתר that Rav Kook dealt with? Are you aware that the היתר existed before Rav Kook and that he is not the final word on the topic coming from those who support the היתר?

      I wonder whether the real "subversion" of this post is the skepticism regarding אוצר בית דין which is promoted with tremendous enthusiasm in much of the chardal world. (The recent critiques against R' Melamed couldn't have occurred at a better time!)

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    3. One thing I've learned over the years is that charedim have a real problem grasping the non-charedim don't related to their "gedolim" the way charedim relate to theirs.

      Believe it or not, it's possible to respect, admire, even revere giants like R' Kook or R' Soloveitchik without actually feeling oneself bound to follow every thing they said.

      It's why non-charedim can admire charedi gedolim as well. Of course, in the charedi world, the reverse is often true: If one disagrees with a gadol, then the gadol cannot be respected. (Or his position has to be twisted or just ignored.)

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    4. I have no idea what Rav Kook would say today.

      I also don't know what you mean by "most MO". Not sure how many "Modern Orthodox" people you have discussed Shmitta with, but every shiur I have attended from Religious Zionist Rabbis on the topic of Shmitta always emphasizes that Rav Kook saw Heter Mechira as a non-ideal solution.

      Many Religious Zionist Rabbinim support Otzar Beit Din ad other solutions that don't rely on Heter Mechira BECAUSE Rav Kook saw Heter Mechira as Bidavad.

      As Rav Slifkin said, there is no ideal solution for Shmitta, every approach involves large Kulot, to describe one solution as "Mehadrin", is to ignore glaring halachic limitations of that solution.

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    5. Rav Ovadia Yosef was also in favor of the Heter.

      נראה שיש לסמוך בשביעית בזמן הזה דרבנן, על היתר המכירה שנעשה בזמנו על פי הוראת גדולים חקרי לב, ועל צבא תהלתם הגאון הראש"ל יש"א ברכה ... ואף על פי שהסיבות שהיו בדורם היו יותר חזקות ורציניות, מ"מ ידוע לנו שמאות חקלאים כל פרנסתם אינה אלא מן החקלאות, ואין להם כל אפשרות אחרת לאכול לחם חוקם ולפרנס את ילדיהם, ללא החקלאות

      וע"י המכירה לנכרי אנו מצילים את רוב המון בית ישראל מלהכשל באיסור שביעית. ...מכיון שהרבנות הראשית מבצעת את המכירה לגוי בקנינים המועילים כדין תורה, שוב אין לפקפק כלל על המכירה. ובפרט ששביעית בזמן הזה מדרבנן

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    6. Talmid - you are conflating two different sugyos.
      No one disagrees that for the farmer, it is preferable to leave his fields barren. Hence the sources from Rav Kook ztl.
      The question at hand is what is the best thing for the consumer to do? It's two different sugyos.

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    7. I can't help but think this is the same guy who goes all over the internet trying to turn R' Kook into an anti-Zionist charedi. He thinks he's doing him a favor, of course, but in reality he's disrespecting him in the worst way possible.

      (Goes without saying that the same thing is done to R' Kook's great admirer, R' Soloveitchik.)

      By the way, there aren't really any "Modern Orthodox" in Israel. That's an American thing. Anyone who purports to "know" Israel should know that, and the fact that you don't is telling.

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    8. 'there aren't really any "Modern Orthodox" in Israel. That's an American thing.'

      Actually I *personally* know a lot of Israeli Modern Orthodox. All of them are olim from America. ;)

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    9. R Soloveitchik was a "great admirer of R Kook?" Really? What evidence is there of that? Also, his comments in thinking aloud were more of a mixed bag iirc.

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    10. "Also, his comments in thinking aloud were more of a mixed bag iirc."

      Thinking aloud is not concluding aloud. Don't forget that RJBS visited the terminally ill Rav Kook weeks before he died. The citation in "Thinking" refers to the young Rav's impressions in 1935- not his impressions at the time the conversation took place decades later. The quote is "I was not impressed by his scholastics." Note the word "was". Also note that he was impressed by other aspects of Rav Kook's character. But heck, you're talking about a hyper-genius who learned directly under Rav Chaim. So what if he thought that Rav Kook didn't measure up to Rav Chaim? I doubt students at Mercaz HaRav would have a problem with that.

      See also here:
      https://traditiononline.org/rabbi-soloveitchik-meets-rav-kook/

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    11. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vT07x0Qgi7E

      A famous story by R' Soloveitchik on R' Kook.

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    12. So, did he "greatly admire" RK or not? What is the specific source for that?

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    13. RNS
      I personally find R Melamed arguments unconvincing.
      Furthermore in a Lecture delivered by Rabbi Shlomo Goren to Jewish students at London University at Hillel House in London in the 1960s he was quoted as saying that Rabbi Kook’s ruling no longer applied and any such sale had no validity. He also wrote in the newspaper Hatzofe, (Tel Aviv), 12 Marcheshvan 5747 - 14 November 1986, p.8 that“after the
      establishment of the State of Israel, when most of Eretz Yisrael is in Jewish hands, there is no validity to the Heter Mechirah according to the writings of Rabbi Kook himself".
      A similar conclusion was reached by Rabbi Moshe Ushpizai who was Chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan and at a later date, Chairman of the Board
      of Rabbis of Hapoel Hamizrachi. Over forty years ago he wrote, “Now there has been a great change in the economy of the State of Israel. The economy is increasingly being based on industry and not on agriculture. Industry is taking first place in the country.
      Even the kibbutz economy is increasingly being based on industry…. We are also, time and time again witnessing a sad phenomenon where excess fruit and vegetables are being thrown on the dung-heap. He concludes that Rabbi Kook would not allow the heter today.(Rabbi Moshe Ushpizai, Amudim, (Kibbutz Hadati), nos. 226-227, Adar 5725 – March 1965, pp 143-44.).

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    14. ר׳ עובדיה יוסף זצ״ל
      ‎נראה שיש לסמוך ,בשביעית בזמן הזה דרבנן, על
      ‎היתר המכירה שנעשה בזמנו על פי הוראת גדולים חקרי לב, ועל צבא תהלתם הגאון הראש"ל יש"א ברכה ... ואף על פי שהסיבות שהיו בדורם היו יותר חזקות ורציניות, מ"מ ידוע לנו שמאות חקלאים כל פרנסתם אינה אלא מן החקלאות, ואין להם כל אפשרות אחרת לאכול לחם חוקם ולפרנס את ילדיהם, ללא החקלאות

      ‎וע"י המכירה לנכרי אנו מצילים את רוב המון בית ישראל מלהכשל באיסור שביעית. ...מכיון שהרבנות הראשית מבצעת את המכירה לגוי בקנינים המועילים כדין תורה, שוב אין לפקפק כלל על המכירה. ובפרט ששביעית בזמן הזה מדרבנן

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  3. The hypocrisy of the dati leumi on this one is too much. they claim that its borderline murder to buy yevul nachri (which is by far the best option in terms of pure halachik observance) because you are supporting the arab farmers. But every single one of there houses, shuls, schools etc. is built by those very same Palestinian arabs imported from the west bank. In truth its even worse because the yevul nachri at least comes from arabs in places like Egypt and Turkey that may just hate us but don't actually kill us.
    Why is it that the dati leumi don't demand to only build with jewish workers? Its very simple - cheap labor. No jew would be willing to be paid as little as the arabs are willing to receive.
    So I'm waiting for all the dati leumi to put there money where there mouth is and set up jewish construction companies and use only them and pay the premium for not supporting our enemies.

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    Replies
    1. Such ignorance - I suggest you do some reading before you pass judgement on those who know more than you.

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    2. That's called "tu quoque," and it is a logical fallacy. Try responding to the *substance* of the argument.

      And it's "their," by the way.

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    3. @Daniel, I'm also ignorant. What's the answer to his challenge please?

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    4. ***, it's not a challenge, it's changing the topic.

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    5. There are many answers to the 'challenge,' including, but not limited to the fact that yevul nochri does not generally come from chutz la'aretz and is not 'by far the best halachic option.' For my own halachic analysis, see https://drive.google.com/file/d/1-f7R14rFWrZ1ZR3Cx7I6Yh-AC0ejyueO/view. You can also read Rav Rimon's book or Peninei Halacha for different positions, none of which are as simplistic or as ignorant as the comment above.

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    6. I am not the ignorant one.
      There are two separate issues. There is what is called yevul chu"l which is produce from outside the land of Israel. From a halachik perspective of trying to minimize the chance of doing an issur (or facilitating doing one) this is by far the best option. But only chareidim buy this because dati leumi claim it supports our enemies. Above I pointed out how this is complete cynical hypocrisy - you have yet to respond to that. It seems that when it hurts your wallet its ok to support our enemies.

      The second option is yevul nachri - produce from arab farmers in Israel. Here too the halachik issues are fewer than those of heter mechira and otzar beis din. But again the dati leumi won't touch it for the above reason.

      Its time to stop this racist idea that all arabs our are mortal enemies. Nobody actually believes this - that's why we use them to do ALL our construction. The vast majority of arab farmers just want to make a living like the rest of us.

      And if you say - but what about supporting the Jewish farmers? Thankfully the chareidim have come up with options such a Keren Hashviis that supports the farmers fully while they keep shmittah as it was meant to be - not working the land AT ALL. Not some joke such as heter mechira or otzar beis din where from the farmers perspective you can barely tell its shemittah. I and many of my fellow chareidim have a monthly horaat keva to keren hashiviis. I can't think of a better way to support our Jewish farmers without compromising on the halacha and spirit of shmittah.

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    7. So basically, Keren HaSheviis produces no actual, you know, produce.

      And there's no way it can support more than a couple of kibbutzim. The whole country? Come on.

      And what will the country eat?

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    8. It is not a racist idea that many Arabs are our mortal enemies. It is a fact. (I know, you wrote "all" and I'm reading "many.")

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    9. I apologize for not providing much substance here, but here goes: 20-odd years ago, in a group of American yeshiva boys, Rav Aharon Lichtenstein was asked about Tzomet - the Israeli company that makes halachic-assistive devices like "gramaphones" in order to minimize issurim of Shabbos. This company ALSO makes machines to help out during Shmittah. The question was basically how can we permit working the land during shmittah even with a machine that has a grama delay or whatnot.

      The answer was as surprising as it was enlightening. He basically said how that is a very Chutz LaAretz perspective. We have to have empathy for the farmers and their livelihood. I do not recall how much actual halacha he included, but the attitude of the answer was as I just described.

      I'm sure there are poskim who would argue against this, but it was really nice to hear this "machmir" attitude for the bein adam lachaveiro side, even if that meant we were being "meikil" on the bein adam lamakom side.

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    10. @ Nachum
      1)Keren Hasviis are supporting 51% of Israeli jewish farmers this year.
      2)The government has made it easier to import produce with lower taxes. There is plenty of chu"l produce this year from Cyprus and Europe, and more can be imported if needed.

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    11. There is what is called yevul chu"l which is produce from outside the land of Israel. From a halachik perspective of trying to minimize the chance of doing an issur (or facilitating doing one) this is by far the best option. But only chareidim buy this because dati leumi claim it supports our enemies.
      --------------------------
      i thought the critique of supporting enemies was levelled at yvul nochri not ch"ul. the critique against chul was how will aretz farmers survive.
      kt

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    12. Anonymous - so now at least you concede that yevul nochri usually refers to Arab produce from within Israel. Unfortunately, you still need a few facts corrected, including, but not limited to:
      1. Yevul Chul, when available, is bought by plenty of dati'im leumi'im (myself included). In fact, Rav Melamed sees this as the ultimate solution to Hilchos Shemita when it becomes practical to use this alone. No-one would say that this is supporting our enemies.
      2. Yevul nochri does not have 'far fewer halachic issues' than otzar beis din.
      3. Otzar beis din is not a 'joke', and was strongly promoted by the Chazon Ish and others.
      4. I never said all Arabs are our mortal enemies, and very few believe this.
      5. I have nothing against Keren HaShevi'is, but if you think this alone can be the solution to Shemita, you lack basic understanding of economics. For one, if many farmers stopped work entirely during Shemita, they would lose the markets for all seven years of the cycle.
      The main point is that you clearly have not read any of the classic writings about heter mechira, and no more than a particular selection of the more modern poskim. It's fine not to like heter mechira (I'm not a great fan myself), but you really need to do some more homework before you insult those who know more than you.

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    13. 51% of agriculture in Israel has nog stopped.

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  4. instead only buying from abroad, which usually means from Arab
    =============================
    Is this accurate? I understood that yvul nochri was in this category, not ch"ul.

    I find it disappointing that the teudot kashrut say "shmita khalacha" from which one might conclude any other standard is not khalacha.

    KT

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  5. You leave out another problem as well: Using shemitah produce (like Otzar Beit Din) brings with it the requirement to treat that produce in specific ways, risking further problems.

    Interesting, my daughter's gan asked kids to bring in vegetables today- but only yevul nokhri, as they don't want kedusha on the produce. That there's no kedusha on heter mechira seemed not to occur to them, or perhaps they are so opposed they refuse to consider it.

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    1. If it's a charedi gan, they would hold that there IS kedusha on heter mechira produce - because the sale is null and void.

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    2. As it happens, it's not a charedi gan, but the ganenot trend that way.

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    3. DLZ - its vegetables, so they would hold that Hetter Mechira produce is issur sefichin.

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  6. We are commanded to follow majority. Majority of orthodox Jews (the mainstream) does not recognize heter mehira. Nor does main US organizations like OU and OK. Rav Kook made this heter for only one particular cycle when it was an issue of pikuach nefesh. Avoiding the heter is not a chumrah, it is a mainstream view, at least because selling Jewish land to non-Jews is forbidden. The alternatives are not only to buy from Arabs. They may buy from non-observant farmers and re-sell. Shmittah applies to the land of Israel in the time of 2nd Temple. By most opinions, Golan and south of Ashkelon are not inside these boundaries. And of course we do have Otzar bet din recognized by most poskim.

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    1. "We are commanded to follow majority." What utter nonsense. It's incredible that someone purporting to represent a Torah perspective can say such a thing.

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    2. Lazar: Let me fix that for you: "We are commanded to follow the majority in an instance when a matter has been discussed and voted upon by the Sanhedrin, at least until such time that a later Sanhedrin reconsiders and rules otherwise."

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    3. Lazar - I don't know what the majority is today, but RSZ Aurbach in his intro to Sheviis writes that the minhag is to be meikil. Apparently that was once the majority.

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    4. Wow, one marvels at how many glaring mistakes (if not outright falsehoods) can be fit into one small post:

      "We are commanded to follow majority."

      When there's a Sanhedrin. Any chances at there being a Sanhedrin in the modern State of Israel were torpedoed by...the charedim. When they thought they wouldn't be in charge, they didn't want it. When they took over the Chief Rabbinate (even though they still don't recognize it), well, suddenly it was the best thing ever.

      "Majority of orthodox Jews (the mainstream) does not recognize heter mehira."

      I see what you did there. Insert a vague word like "mainstream" and then you can define it however you want. The vast majority of "Orthodox" (Dati) Jews in Israel follow the heter mechira. And this may surprise you, but a lot of non-Dati Jews care about such things, and they all follow the heter mechira as well.

      "Nor does main US organizations like OU and OK."

      Well, that's great. You know where shemittah is not an issue? The US. The OU and the OK are free to say whatever they want, as they don't really have to deal with the consequences.

      "Rav Kook made this heter for only one particular cycle when it was an issue of pikuach nefesh."

      Rav Kook was Chief Rabbi for at least four shemittah years and never changed his mind. And it wasn't really pikuach nefesh even at first.

      "Avoiding the heter is not a chumrah, it is a mainstream view, at least because selling Jewish land to non-Jews is forbidden."

      The same people who say this also say there's no problem in giving up land to the PA for nothing. Interesting.

      "The alternatives are not only to buy from Arabs. They may buy from non-observant farmers and re-sell."

      Well, that's unfortunate. Unfortunately, there *are* no alternatives. You want to make a new system, go ahead.

      "Shmittah applies to the land of Israel in the time of 2nd Temple."

      Shemittah has not applied since Sancherev carried off the northern tribes. During the Second Bayit it was d'rabbanan, just like now.

      "By most opinions, Golan and south of Ashkelon are not inside these boundaries."

      By every definition, the Golan is part of Eretz Yisrael. Be'er Sheva, the southern border of Eretz Yisrael, is very much south of Ashkelon. And of course most Israeli produce doesn't come from there.

      "And of course we do have Otzar bet din recognized by most poskim."

      Again, you've put out a line "most poskim." You have to define "poskim" and "most" doesn't matter and it's just not true anyway. And in any event, Otzar Beit Din cannot support a country of seven million Jews.

      So by my count, that's 0 for 9. Congratulations!

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    5. Well worded Nachum. You counter argument is solid and I will need to keep it for future discussions / debates.
      Shkoyach!

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    6. And on the specific issue of the OU and OK being "machmir" like the chareidi viewpoint, sometimes, the OU - which indeed bases much of their decisions on actual lomdus and appropriate halacha, I am not denigrating here!! - does make decisions for political and practical reasons. One example is having the policy to put OU-D on products that are actually only dairy equipment. Whatever the understanding/reasoning is, this is certainly somewhat confusing and limiting.

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    7. Or that the OU doesn't certify non-glatt meat.

      The claim is that DE was removed to make things less confusing...except, as you say, it's very limiting.

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    8. iiuc the ou position on heter mechira was based on R'YBS saying no need for ch"ul folks to get involved in it
      kt

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    9. This Israeli Rabbinate and Foreign Kashrut authorities have different standards based on a different reality.

      To the best of my knowledge, the OU standard is Glatt meat, and not Heter Mechira produce, however the OU certifies chalav Nochri, Pat Yisraeli, Bishul Akum, and Chadash.

      The Rabbinate accepts Heter Mechira, and non-Glatt meat, otherwise it would be extremely difficult to provide affordable produce for the country, however does not allow Chadash or Chalav Nochri to be imported (it does allow "Avkat Chalav Nochri"). It is also more strict about checking for bugs and the level of shechita than most foreign Kashrut organizations.

      When you see an imported product that says "Under supervision of xyz Kashrut Authority, with the approval of the Rabbinate" it means that this particular product meets the rabbinate's standards, even if other products supervised by that kashrut authority may not.

      Sometimes a factory do a special batch for export to Israel with a higher level of kashrut so that it meets the requirements of the rabbinate. i.e., the Cheerios you buy in Israel a made with Kemach yashan, even though Cheerios with the same packaging in the US may contain Chadash.

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  7. Almost every shmitah etrog sold in the US that I have seen has an Otzar Beit Din hechsher on the box. I had always wondered about the export of shmitah produce from Eretz Yisrael.

    Maybe I need to purchase American-grown etrogim this year. https://www.lindcoveranch.com/

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    1. Where etrogim used to come from:

      https://segulamag.com/en/articles/the-etrog-in-america/

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  8. Shemita lechumra is a code phrase for avoiding shemita altogether. We are given the zechut to eat shemita and unfortunately a significant portion of Torah minded Jews want to run away from this zchus as fast as they can. 

    I spoke once to a satmar fellow and he told me that he was against giving his kids shemitta because they wouldnt know how to treat it with proper respect. So I asked him if he would give his kids a siddur or chumash to hold. If he would teach his kids to treat shemita products like they treat a siddur they would treat it properly. Surprisingly, he was impressed by that response. I doubt though that he eats kedushat sheviit. Its hard to think for yourself in certain spheres. 

    I think the bigger issue is that many people feel that eating nochri is the ideal ie chumra way to keep shemita yet its anything but. One of the biggest issues with heter mechira and the chazon Ish biggest concern is the issur of 'Lo Techanem' - selling land to non-jews. He felt that it was assur even though it was for the benefit of the yeshuvim etc because the doraisa of 'lo tchanem outweighs the drabanan of shemita.
     
    But whats the biggest issue with all this? Buying nochri results in actual lo techanem because the more charedim buy from Arabs the more land and water Arabs need and demand from the government. This would be actual 'lo techanem' rather than temporarily selling land to non-jews. 

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    1. "Its hard to think for yourself in certain spheres. "

      Before COVID I used to attend a minyan that had a lot of Chasidim. A Satmar guy took me aside after one minyan and he said he wanted to talk to me privately. It turned out that he wanted to "confess" to me that he ate chalav stam dairy products outside of his home!

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    2. That was the point I was going to make. Chmura generally refers to being machmir on lo tizra, lo tizmor, lo tiktsor, and lo tivtsor. However, shmitta also includes והיתה שבת הארץ לכם לאכלה. Has anyone proposed a means to uphold the latter without raising questions about violating the former?

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  9. גיורא בר גיוראDecember 20, 2021 at 3:47 PM

    Rabbi Shlomo Goren opposed the heter!
    https://www.kosharot.co.il/index2.php?id=421059&lang=HEB
    (The above is from a dati leumi website)

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    1. This is a distortion. Rav Goren's practical concerns do not mean he was completely opposed to the היתר. And it's not clear that others opposed the היתר would have agreed with RG's reasoning.
      In any case, it's irrelevant. The point of this post was not to promote the היתר, but to show that "in the modern era, there is simply no ideal way to observe Shmittah."
      You can oppose the היתר, but you still won't be observing שמיטה in an ideal fashion.

      Delete
  10. Anyway you can translate his teshuva into English for us English speakers? Google translate is not good enough for a halachic teshuva.

    ReplyDelete
  11. There's another fundamental problem with *any* kashrut chumra that may exist only, or mostly, in Israel. *Any* kashrut chumra, in a system that provides kosher food for about nine million people, suffers from the tragedy of the commons. That is, you can't keep a kashrut chumra unless *most* people aren't. You can't drink mehadrin milk (what Americans mistakenly call "chalav yisrael" without knowing what it really is, and thus follow) unless the *vast majority* of Israelis don't. Period. Same for, say, glatt meat. (Something else many Americans don't know about Israel.) And the same is *very* true of Otzar Beit Din and even of yevul nokhri. Without 90% of Israeli Jews having no problem with heter mechira, the other systems wouldn't be able to exist.

    It's something to think about.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And there's something else. If those opposed to the היתר would convince the rest of the population, you'd be removing a huge source of produce from the market. In its place, there would be a parallel increase demand in יבול נכרי/חו"ל . Prices would sky-rocket. Which would cause a great שעת הדחק. In light of the שעת הדחק, there will calls from the poorer communities for a halachic solution.

      Result: Bnei Brak will revive the היתר and affluent North Tel Aviv will eat יבול חו"ל because only they can afford it.

      Delete
    2. the tragedy of the commons comes from the focus on the individual, not the tzibbur - something that even the most frum have been affected by from western society
      kt

      Delete
  12. "For example, being stringent about the sin of lashon hara can often involve being lenient about the sin of Lo sa'amod al dam reyecha."

    Its hard to take seriously the opinion of someone who opens an article with a statement like that. Sorry, it just is.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Its hard to take seriously the opinion of someone who makes a comment like that. Sorry, it just is.

      Delete
    2. A foolish response from a commenter with a disgusting name. Perfect illustration.

      Delete
    3. Disgusting name. Spot on response.

      Delete
    4. What an enlightening comment thread. Does anyone have any actual content to offer?

      Delete
  13. Otzar Bes Din has more problems than heater mechira.
    1.Ramabam skips the tosefta, and Radvaz says that the reason is because it's not lehalacha.
    2. As many point out, it's a legal fiction that somehow makes costs of transporting into more expensive than the final product.
    3.the Tosefta didn't have people paying per product and calling. It transportation costs. Rather the Bet Din hired workers to handle the fruit, and raised city taxes, and people received free fruit. It's very different from walking into a store and picking out bananas.
    4. Stores sell fruit by weight.
    5. Stores sell to non Jews
    6. Wine ends up in the duty free shop and people buy and take it with then to churz laaretz.

    ReplyDelete
  14. What does rav rimon say?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. See here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3a1SuafGBjg
      Basically he says that היתר מכירה works, but it's a question of in which situations it should be used and that we should always seek out better solutions, such as אוצר בית דין or growing on raised beds.
      But watch the video (and the others in the series)- don't rely on my rough summary.

      Delete
    2. Rav Rimon prefers Heter Mechira to Nochri. Aside from the issue of purchasing from Arabs his concern is that the more chareidim buy from arabs the more arabs demand more land and water from the government. Once the arabs are assigned more land they often refuse to return it to the government after shemita. This ends up being actual 'lo techanem' and much worse than temporarily selling land to arabs for heter mechira purposes.

      Delete
  15. I'm always intrigued that nobody seems to have any problem about the overuse of selling chometz, which is equally only valid or necessary in specific circumstances, yet we always have this massive debate over shmitta. I really fail to see how a halachic tool allowing the temporary sale of an expensive bottle of whisky is justified but a temporary sale allowing farmers to maintain their livelihoods isn't.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I understood that Mechira Chametz is executed as a real, permanent sale. And we would have to let the non-Jew keep the whiskey after Pesach, if he so desired. At least that's how my rabbis do it when I sell. Is it the same with Heter Mechira? Does it work in such a way that if the non-Jew wanted to keep the fields, he could?

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    2. the usual reasons given include lo tchaneim and the buyer really doesn't want to buy all the land. I'd suspect the real answer lies in meta-halacha
      kt

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    3. R Elyashiv ones told me that one of the differences is that Chometz is not wanted during Pessach as opposed to the farmer that wants to be able to work on his field even during Shmitta. This is besides the reasons of the Chazon Ish of לא תחנם ואי עביד לא מהני etc.

      Delete

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