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  • Torah and Jewish Thought
  • Principles of Mitzva Observance

Shmita Wine


Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Av 25, 5776
When I departed Ben Gurion Airport in May, I purchased some fine Kosher Lueria wine at the airport duty free area. When i arrived home, I discovered that it was 2015 produced wine.....(a Gewurtztraminer). May I drink it in Chutz l’Aretz? Should I bring it back to Israel when I return (somewhere in the next 12 months) and drink it in Israel? I know that I must finish the entire bottle....that’s not a problem. thank you, Orrin Davis
ב"ה Shalom I sent a query to the winery and they said that the wine sold was produced from grapes from land that was sold to non-Jews under the "Heter Mechira" carried out by the Chief Rabbinate. Therefore, the wine is not holy and may be treated as any other wine. The "Heter Mechira" is the arrangement in which the agricultural lands in Eretz Yisrael are sold to non-Jews for the Shemita in order to circumvent the application of Shemitta laws to agricultural produce thus preventing great economic losses to farmers, since today Shemitta is rabbinically enforced. Just carefully check the label and see if "על פי היתר מכירה" "- Heter Mechira in Hebrew appears on the label. The general rule as you said is not to take wine which has the holiness of Shemitta outside Eretz Yisrael. However, as we said this seems not to be the case in this instance. Furthermore, there is lengthy discussion among the commentators if there are circumstances in which produce which has the holiness of Shemitta may be removed from Eretz yisrael. However, if the above information in regard to the status of the wine is incorrect, and the wine is indeed holy (this would also be specified on the label –Otzar Bet Din-אוצר בעת דין -) , now that the wine is already in Chutz la'aretz, you may drink it in Chutz la'aretz. Nevertheless, you must treat the wine as holy and not pour what is left over in the cup down the drain (unless there are just minimal remains of what was drunk, and neither may you extinguish the Havdala candle in the wine. Just to clarify, the rules in the previous paragraph do not apply if the wine is from Heter Mechira. Le'chaim. All the best
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