We are continuing in the halachos of esroger shemitah, disucssing the chiyuv biur. We learned that 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. The chiyuv only applies if one has more than three meals worth of the produce at home. Generally, when it comes to esrog jelly, a person makes a large amount of jelly at once, and only uses a small amount at each meal. Any time one has more than three meals worth of jelly, their jelly is chayav in biur. If one does not perform biur, the food is assur.
We need to further clarify the zman biur for esrogim. The esrog tree has the propensity to hold onto its fruit for more than one year, so some poskim suggest that there is no zman biur at all. However, the consensus is that since most of the esrogim do not remain on the tree from year to year, the few that do remain are not significant enough to remove the halacha of biur.
On the other end, Rav Moshe raises the following issue.
We know that there could be many markers through which to define which fruits belong to the shemitah year. One could go based on the time they were planted, the time they took root, the time they flowered, or the time they were harvested, among other options.
The Gemara gives us a general rule that vegetables and grains go based on the year they were picked. Thus, wheat which grew before the shemitah year and is only harvested during the shemitah year is shemitah produce, and wheat which grew during the shemitah year but only harvested after the shemitah year is not shemitah produce.
Fruits go based on specific stages of growth, as defined by the mishnayos in Sheviis. These stages of growth are generally based on a minimal size at which it can be considered a fruit. Thus, even if the fruit was picked after the shemitah year, if it reached that minimal threshold during shemitah, it would be considered shemitah produce.
One would have assumed that esrogim are a fruit, so it should follow the same rule and have a definition in the mishnayos. However, the Gemara says, based on pesukim, that the main criteria for determining is not what is considered a fruit and what is considered a vegetable, but rather it is determined based on whether the field needs watering (“godel al kol mayim”) or whether the field can take care of itself. A field which needs watering has the rules that we mentioned for vegetables, and a field which can take care of itself has the rules that we mentioned for fruit. Based on this definition, esrogim are certainly godel al kol mayim, as they need to be watered constantly. Thus, one could argue that they have the halachic status of vegetables rather than fruits. This question is a major halachic machlokes, but we pasken that they are treated as a fruit.
Rav Moshe raises the question that if one follows the opinion that an esrog has the halachic status of a vegetable, so its determination regarding shemitah is dependent on when it was picked, the zman biur will be when there is no longer of that type–i.e., no more shemittah esrogim–in the fields. This happens on Rosh Hashanah, because any esrogim picked before Rosh Hashanah are considered of the shemitah year, and any esrogim picked after Rosh Hashanah are of the next year. Thus, according to Rav Moshe, the zman biur for esrogim may be Rosh Hashanah itself. He suggests that even those who consider an esrog to have the halachic status of a fruit should consider this zman biur out of safeik, so if one owns three or more shemitah esrogim they must perform biur on Rosh Hashanah. He can then reacquire right after Rosh Hashana. However, the majority of poskim do not follow Rav Moshe’s concern, and only base the zman biur of esrogim on its halachic status of being a fruit. If it is a fruit, the poskim assume that the zman biur will be in the month of Shevat. At that point, one would be chayav in biur and the process described above.
Wishing you a gmar chasima tovah!
- 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.
- The zman of biu for esrogim is assumed to be in the month of Shevat.