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  • The Halachot of Shmitta and Yovel

Disposing of wilted flowers which are not kosher for shmitta


Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Tevet 4, 5775
Thank you for your previous answer. In the situation where someone considers flowers with a scent to be considered for Shmitta. If the person was given flowers that were not checked by someone who doesn’t understand the halakhoth for Shmitta, how should a person handle this? Can they receive benefit from the flowers by putting them in a pot? Do they need to be put away until they wilt? In this situation is the situation the same as far as disposing of them when they wilt? Thank you.
ב"ה שלום In order to answer your question fully, I must give some background both Halchic and botanic. The Halacha differentiates between annual plants, meaning plants which much be planted each year anew and perennials which are plants which are already in the ground and just the flowers are picked. In annual flowers, even the unscented ones, there is the possibility they were planted and picked during the Shmitta year and there are opinions in Halacha which say they have the prohibition of "sefichin", as if they were vegetables planted during shmitta, which means one may not benefit from them during Shmitta and they shouldn't be sold , even though they are not eaten. On the hand, some say that the laws of "sefichin", only apply to edible grown things and not flowers. Therefore these types of flowers require supervision in regard to Shmitta. With perennials there is less of a problem. There is no issue of "sefichin", but according to some opinions there are other issues of "Shamur" and "ne'vad". Meaning the flowers were "guarded" as it were since they were not abandoned and they were worked upon. Some say, as I explained in my previous answer that even in scented flowers, we don't regard them as having Kedushat Shvi'it, though of course one may not promote their growth. However, in practice these possible prohibitions do not render them forbidden to benefit from during Shmitta. Nonetheless, one should buy flowers with supervision in regard to Shmitta. Having said that, once the flowers were bought and given to you I don't see a need for you to throw them away, because even in the worst case scenario, that they were planted in Shmitta in a forbidden manner, they are not considered sefichin according to some opinions.(אמונתך עיתך גליון 39) Furthermore, the flowers may have been grown in hot houses in a permitted manner or they may have been grown in land sold to a gentile by the Heter Mechira. In addition, as I have said if the flowers are perennials, possible prohibitions which may have been done, do not render them forbidden to benefit from during Shmitta. So in short, to start with flowers should be bought with supervision. If the flowers were brought to you and you don't know their source, you may benefit from them. If they have scent, you should place them in a separate bag once wilted. (See also Rav Yosef Tzvi Rimon's book Shmitta, Hebrew editon pgs. 199,242-243) Shabbat Shalom
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