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Dinei Esrogei Shemittah (05) – Hefsed

D'var Halacha
D'var Halacha
Dinei Esrogei Shemittah (05) - Hefsed


We are continuing in the halachos of esrogei shemitah. We learned that the pasuk says one may use shemitah fruits le’achlah, to eat, which Chazal understand to mean that one cannot damage or waste the food. This halacha is known as hefsed. This plays out in that if one is eating shemittah produce and has leftovers, they cannot throw it out or waste it. Rather, it is put into a container until it becomes unusable, and then it is discarded. 

The Magen Avraham writes that it is a mitzvah to eat shemittah produce, and the Ramban even lists it as one of the taryag mitzvos. However, the Chazon Ish disagrees and holds it is not a mitzvas asei to eat shemitah produce, only a lo saasei to refrain from hefsed. 


The halacha is that a person can use peiros sheviis in their normal fashion, and it is not considered hefsed to do so. In other words, fruits normally eaten can be eaten, and fruits normally squeezed for juices can be squeezed. A fruit which is not normally juiced may not be juiced. Olives may be turned into olive oil and used for anointing or lighting candles. 

Produce which is fit for human consumption is used for humans, and has kedushas sheviis. Produce which is fit for animal consumption has kedushas sheviis as well. The Gemara says that even something used as a dye may be used for that purpose during shemittah as well, but the item will now have kedushas sheviis. 


The question becomes defining the normal usage of an esrog. People generally do not eat esrog raw; however, it is commonly made into jelly. Thus, it is muttar to make esrogei shemitah into jelly. (Parenthetically, esrogim are often treated with pesticides which will gather in the jelly, so it is often unsafe to eat them.) Whichever parts of the esrog that remain after making jelly and are inedible,may be discarded without being considered hefsed. 


There is a time limit until when the esrog may be used, known as biur. Biur is the halacha that as long as the produce is still available in the fields, it may be kept at home. However, once it is no longer available in the fields, one must make the produce they have at home hefker as well. This process is known as a chiyuv biur. 


If one has less than three portions worth of that produce, they are not chayav to perform biur. However, generally, when one makes esrog jelly, they use many esrogim, so it would require biur. If a person does not perform biur, the produce becomes assur to consume. 


After the zman of biur is completed, one may re-aquire the produce. However, since we do not know the precise time of biur (i.e., the precise moment at which the fruit is no longer found in the fields), but it generally spans over a few days, one would have to make the produce hefker before that time and only re-aquire it after that time.


Rav Moshe discusses the proper time for biur for esrogim in a teshuva. The assumption of the poskim is that the esrogim of the previous year remain available on the trees for a few months after Sukkos. On the other hand, many are taken off the trees at the beginning of the year, in time for Sukkos. Thus, Rav Moshe raises the question that maybe they remain in a state of biur for an extended period of time, from before Sukkos (when they are harvested for the mitzvah) until a few months later (when they naturally cease to be available in the fields). If so, one would have to make their esrog hefker over Sukkos, which would then lack in the chiyuv of lachem (see previous shiur). We will discuss this point further in the next shiur, be’ezras Hashem.



  • Shemitah produce may be used le’achlah, but not in a manner of hefsed. Any normal consumption of the produce is considered le’achlah.
  • Chiyuv biur is the chiyuv to make produce at home hefker when that type of produce is no longer found in the fields. Once the zman of biur is completed, one may reaquire the produce.

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