Tzemach Yehudah Richter
Tzemach Yehudah Richter

Shemitah 5782 – Focusing On Chag Sukkot – The Lulav And Etrog


Jews from all over the world are commanded to celebrate Sukkot. One of the most common Mitzvahs most Jews are aware of is the requirement to have a Lulav and Etrog. And no matter where that Jew is located, there is a high probability that the Lulav and Etrog were grown in Israel.

Therefore, because we are now at the beginning of the Shemitah year of 5782, and in the midst of Sukkot, it is very important to know the laws related to Shemitah as they apply to the Lulav and Etrog. That is because if they become classified as Shemitah produce, they are to be treated as being “Holy” for which different laws apply as opposed to anything that is not considered Shemitah.

It is understandable that many Jews who live outside Israel and currently possess a Lulav and Etrog have not even thought about Shemitah, but this is a serious mistake. Because it is very possible that the Etrog you are using may be classified as Shemitah and therefore considered “Holy”.

What About The Lulav?

When we refer to the Lulav, we also include the Aravot (willow) and Hadassim (myrtle). It is widely accepted that all three species do not have the status of Shemitah. And therefore, they can be discarded in the usual manner.

Now Let’s Discuss The Etrog

An Etrog grown in Israel has a real possibility of being classified as Shemitah making it necessary to treat it differently than an Etrog that does not contain Shemitah. Etrogim grown outside of Israel are not classified as Shemitah.

For purposes of Shemitah, the Esrog is widely accepted as being classified as a vegetable which means the factor determining if it is Shemitah is when it is harvested. Therefore, any Etrog harvested after Rosh Hashana 5782 is considered as Shemitah.

As proof, we go to the bottom of Daf 2b in Gemorah Kiddushin which confirms the Etrog is considered like a vegetable. Then continuing on top of Daf 3a, further proof is given why the Etrog is like a vegetable. According to Rashi, in the Gemorah of Rosh Hashana, Daf 14a, it notes that the Etrog requires not only rainwater, but its growth also depends on additional irrigation water. Because vegetables also have the same requirements, this further confirms that the Etrog is considered like a vegetable.

Mixing Shemitah And Non-Shemitah Etrogim To Make Jam             

And to those that have the custom to collect many Etrogim to make into jam, it is very important that you are certain of the status of each Etrog. Because to mix an Etrog without Shemitah together with an Etrog containing Shemitah creates a question. Is the mixture considered Shemitah or non-Shemitah?

There appears to be an opinion that states it works like; but not exactly similar to, milk falling into a pot of soup containing meat. If the volume of milk is less than a ratio of 60 to 1, compared to that of the meat soup, then it is still considered meat soup and kosher assuming the meat and all other ingredients are also kosher. But if the amount of milk increases and creates a ratio less than 60 to 1, then it is considered a mixture of milk and meat and is not kosher.

Obviously, it works differently with Etrogim. The question is how to treat the mixture containing Shemitah and Non-Shemitah Etrogim. The 60 to 1 ratio stays the same. Assuming all Etrogim are of similar size, if the mixture contains a ratio of more than 60 non-Shemitah Etrogim to one Shemitah Etrog, then it can be considered non-Shemitah. But if the number of non-Shemitah Etrogim decreases bringing the ratio below 60 to 1, then the mixture takes on the status of Shemitah and must be treated accordingly.

After reading this Blog, you realize your Etrog may contain Shemitah, and you are not aware of the proper way to dispose of it after Sukkot has finished. If so, you are encouraged to contact your local Rabbi who is knowledgeable in the laws of Shemitah. Alternatively, you should contact Torah organizations such as Chabad, Or Sameach or Aish to name a few who will gladly put you in touch with a Rabbi that will help answer all your questions.

Wishing Everyone A Happy Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret And Simchat Torah Together With A Year Full Of Peace Throughout The World

About the Author
Born and raised in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park. Married to a South African, we lived in Johannesburg from 1979 to 1996. Made Aliyah with our seven children on Parshat Lech Lecha. BSB Accounting Degree from the University of Minnesota. Investment Portfolio Manager /Fundamental And Technical Analyst. Wrote in-depth research on companies, markets, commodities for leading financial publications. Served in the US Army Reserves Semi Retired spending quality time with my wife, children, grandchildren and attend Kollel while analyzing current events as they relate to Torah and Mitzvahs.
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