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Buying food from Israel Shmitta


Rabbi David Sperling

Tevet 10, 5781
Hi, I would like to subscribe to Israeli box subscriptions, where they send you a care package from Israel which includes a few food items (pantry safe like honey, tea, herbs, jams) along with some art. All the food is certified kosher either Rabbanut or LeMehadrin (depending on the items shipped in that box) I’m curious as regards to ahmitta year. I don’t know how long the pantry preserves sat there...but during, and for the first two years after shmitta, is it safe to say that I can’t eat the food because it’s all natural and grown there and it wouldn’t be kosher? (I’ve at least heard that the kosher / shmitta thing in Israel is a little messy or scattered still...) is it ok to eat those things in those times? And if so how do we identify this? Thank you so much,
Shalom, Thank you for your question. Firstly, it’s wonderful to see your desire to support Israel and buy Israeli products. May the merit of this mitzvah be a help to you, and allow you to join the Jewish people living in land and eating of it’s fruits. You are correct that there are issues of the kosher status of produce from the Sabbatical (Shmitah) year in Israel. However, all foods produced in Israel that are made under a kosher supervision (which includes the vast majority of all foods made in Israel), make sure that the foods are permitted to be eaten, and have no problems of Shmittah with them. Each different supervising body follows different opinions about the religious law concerning Shmitah – with there being some great Torah debates over these issues. Without getting into all the details – it is enough to say that if the food sent to you comes with a reliable kashrut supervision (like those you mentioned in your question), one can certainly rely upon them and eat the foods. Blessings.
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