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Shemita - Chapter 1

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Shemita - Chapter 1

Introduction to Hilchos Shemita

They contain twenty-two mitzvot: nine positive commandments and thirteen negative commandments. They are:

1) That the earth should rest in the seventh year from all labor performed because of it;
2) Not to perform agricultural work during this year;
3) Not to perform work with trees during this year;
4) Not to harvest produce that grows on its own in an ordinary manner;
5) Not to harvest grapes in an ordinary manner;
6) To give up ownership of all the produce of the earth;
7) To renounce all debts;
8) Not to pressure a debtor, nor to demand payment from him;
9) Not to refrain from lending before the Sabbatical year so that one will not forfeit his money;
10) To count the years in sets of seven;
11) To sanctify the fiftieth year;
12) To sound the shofar on the tenth of Tishrei [of the fiftieth year] so that the servants will be released as free;
13) Not to perform agricultural work during this year;
14) Not to harvest produce that grows on its own in an ordinary manner;
15) Not to harvest grapes in an ordinary manner;
16) To provide for the redemption of the land during this year; this refers to the laws pertaining to ancestral fields and purchased fields;
17) That the land never be sold in a permanent manner;
18) The laws pertaining to [the sale of] homes in walled cities;
19) That the tribe of Levi should not receive a tribal inheritance in Eretz Yisrael; instead, they are given cities to live in as presents;
20) That the tribe of Levi not take a portion of the spoils [of war];
21) To give the Levites cities to dwell in [together with] their open land;
22) That the open land of their cities never be sold [permanently]; instead they have the opportunity to redeem it whether before the Jubilee year or afterwards.

These mitzvot are explained in the ensuing chapters.

הלכות שמיטה ויובל - הקדמה הלכות שמיטה ויובל יש בכללן שתים ועשרים מצות תשע מצות עשה ושלש עשרה מצות לא תעשה וזהו פרטן: (א) שתשבות הארץ בשביעית ממלאכתה
(ב) שלא יעבוד עבודת הארץ בשנה זו
(ג) שלא יעבוד עבודת האילן בשנה זו
(ד) שלא יקצור הספיח כדרך הקוצרים
(ה) שלא יבצור הנזירים כדרך הבוצרים
(ו) שישמט מה שתוציא הארץ
(ז) שישמט כל הלואתו
(ח) שלא יגוש ולא יתבע הלוה
(ט) שלא ימנע מלהלוות קודם שמיטה כדי שלא יאבד ממונו
(י) לספור השנים שבע שבע
(יא) לקדש שנת החמשים
(יב) לתקוע בשופר בי' בתשרי כדי לצאת עבדים חפשי
(יג) שלא תעבד אדמה בשנה זו
(יד) שלא יקצור ספיחיה כנגד הקוצר
(טו) שלא יבצור נזיריה כנגד הבוצרים
(טז) ליתן גאולה לארץ בשנה זו וזהו דין שדה אחוזה ושדה מקנה
(יז) שלא תמכר הארץ לצמיתות
(יח) דין בתי ערי חומה
(יט) שלא ינחל כל שבט לוי בארץ ישראל אלא נותנין להם ערים מתנה לשבת בהם
(כ) שלא יקח שבט לוי בבזה
(כא) ליתן ללוים ערים לשבת ומגרשיהן
(כב) שלא ימכר מגרש עריהם אלא גואלים לעולם בין לפני היובל בין לאחר היובל וביאור מצות אלו בפרקים אלו:

1

It is a positive commandment to rest from performing agricultural work or work with trees1 in the Sabbatical year, as [Leviticus 25:2] states: "And the land will rest like a Sabbath unto God" and [Exodus 34:21] states: "You shall rest with regard to plowing and harvesting."2

When a person3 performs any labor upon the land or with trees during this year, he nullifies the observance of this positive commandment and violates a negative commandment,4as [Leviticus 25:4] states: "Do not sow your field and do not trim your vineyard."

א

מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה לִשְׁבֹּת מֵעֲבוֹדַת הָאָרֶץ וַעֲבוֹדַת הָאִילָן בְּשָׁנָה שְׁבִיעִית שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה ב) "וְשָׁבְתָה הָאָרֶץ שַׁבָּת לַה'" וְנֶאֱמַר (שמות לד כא) "בֶּחָרִישׁ וּבַקָּצִיר תִּשְׁבֹּת". וְכָל הָעוֹשֶׂה מְלָאכָה מֵעֲבוֹדַת הָאָרֶץ אוֹ הָאִילָנוֹת בְּשָׁנָה זוֹ בִּטֵּל מִצְוַת עֲשֵׂה וְעָבַר עַל לֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה ד) "שָׂדְךָ לֹא תִזְרָע וְכַרְמְךָ לֹא תִזְמֹר":

2

According to Scriptural Law, a person is not liable for lashes except for [the following labors] sowing, trimming,5 harvesting [grain], and harvesting fruit - both from vineyards and from other trees.6

ב

אֵינוֹ לוֹקֶה מִן הַתּוֹרָה אֶלָּא עַל הַזְּרִיעָה אוֹ עַל הַזְּמִירָה וְעַל הַקְּצִירָה אוֹ עַל הַבְּצִירָה. וְאֶחָד הַכֶּרֶם וְאֶחָד שְׁאָר הָאִילָנוֹת:

3

Trimming is considered in the category of sowing.7 And harvesting fruit is considered in the category of harvesting grain. If so, why did the Torah single them out?8 To teach that one is liable [for lashes] for performing these two derivatives alone. For the other derivatives that involve working the land9 and the other major categories of labor that were not mentioned explicitly [by the Torah] in this context, one is not liable for lashes. He is, however, given stripes for rebellious conduct.

ג

וּזְמִירָה בִּכְלַל זְרִיעָה וּבְצִירָה בִּכְלַל קְצִירָה. וְלָמָּה פֵּרְטָן הַכָּתוּב לוֹמַר לְךָ עַל שְׁתֵּי תּוֹלָדוֹת אֵלּוּ בִּלְבַד הוּא חַיָּב וְעַל שְׁאָר הַתּוֹלָדוֹת שֶׁבַּעֲבוֹדַת הָאָרֶץ עִם שְׁאָר הָאָבוֹת שֶׁלֹּא נִתְפָּרְשׁוּ בְּעִנְיָן זֶה אֵינוֹ לוֹקֶה עֲלֵיהֶן. אֲבָל מַכִּין אוֹתוֹ מַכַּת מַרְדּוּת:

4

What is implied? When a person digs or plows10 for the sake of the land, removes stones,11 fertilizes the land, or performs another similar type of work on the land or extends,12 grafts, plants, or performs other similar types of work with trees, he is given stripes for rebellious conduct.

ד

כֵּיצַד. הַחוֹפֵר אוֹ הַחוֹרֵשׁ לְצֹרֶךְ הַקַּרְקַע אוֹ הַמְסַקֵּל אוֹ הַמְזַבֵּל וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן מִשְּׁאָר עֲבוֹדַת הָאָרֶץ. וְכֵן הַמַּבְרִיךְ אוֹ הַמַּרְכִּיב אוֹ הַנּוֹטֵעַ וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן מֵעֲבוֹדַת הָאִילָנוֹת. מַכִּין אוֹתוֹ מַכַּת מַרְדּוּת מִדִּבְרֵיהֶן:

5

We do not plant even non-fruit-bearing trees in the Sabbatical year. Nor may one cut an abnormal outgrowth from a tree, remove dried leaves and branches, apply dust to the top of a tree,13 or smoke a tree so that worms [that infest it] die.14[Similarly,] one should not apply a foul-smelly potion to plants so that birds will not eat them when they are soft. One should not apply oil to unripened fruit, nor should one perforate them. 15 One should not bind plants,16 nor trim them, nor prepare a support for a tree of perform any other work with trees. If one performs any of these labors in the Sabbatical year, he is given stripes for rebellious conduct.

ה

אֵין נוֹטְעִין בַּשְּׁבִיעִית אֲפִלּוּ אִילַן סְרָק. וְלֹא יַחְתֹּךְ הַיִּבּוֹלֶת מִן הָאִילָנוֹת. וְלֹא יְפָרֵק הֶעָלִין וְהַבַּדִּים הַיְבֵשִׁים. וְלֹא יְאַבֵּק אֶת צַמַּרְתּוֹ בָּאָבָק. וְלֹא יְעַשֵּׁן תַּחְתָּיו כְּדֵי שֶׁיָּמוּת הַתּוֹלַעַת. וְלֹא יָסוּךְ אֶת הַנְּטִיעוֹת בְּדָבָר שֶׁיֵּשׁ לוֹ זוֹהֲמָא כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יֹאכַל אוֹתוֹ הָעוֹף כְּשֶׁהוּא רַךְ. וְלֹא יָסוּךְ אֶת הַפַּגִּין. וְלֹא יִנְקֹב אוֹתָן. וְלֹא יִכְרֹךְ אֶת הַנְּטִיעוֹת. וְלֹא יִקְטֹם אוֹתָם. וְלֹא יְפַסֵּג אֶת הָאִילָנוֹת. וְכֵן שְׁאָר כָּל עֲבוֹדַת הָאִילָן. וְאִם עָשָׂה אַחַת מֵאֵלּוּ בַּשְּׁבִיעִית מַכִּין אוֹתוֹ מַכַּת מַרְדּוּת:

6

One may not light a fire in an overgrowth of reeds, because this is considered as working the land.17 We train a cow to plow only in sand.18 We do not test [the viability of] seeds in a flowerpot full of earth,19 but we may test them in a flowerpot full of dung.20 One may soak seeds in the Sabbatical year in order to plant them in the following year.21 We maintain aloe22 plants on top of the roof,23 but we do not water them.24

ו

אֵין מְצִיתִין אֶת הָאוּר בְּאִישַׁת הַקָּנִים מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהִיא עֲבוֹדַת קַרְקַע. וְאֵין מְלַמְּדִין אֶת הַפָּרָה לַחְרשׁ אֶלָּא בְּחוֹל. וְאֵין בּוֹדְקִין אֶת הַזְּרָעִים בְּעָצִיץ מָלֵא עָפָר אֲבָל בּוֹדְקִין אוֹתָן בְּעָצִיץ מָלֵא גְּלָלִים. וְשׁוֹרִין אֶת הַזְּרָעִים בַּשְּׁבִיעִית כְּדֵי לְזָרְעָן בְּמוֹצָאֵי שְׁבִיעִית. וּמְקַיְּמִין הָאִלוּיֵי בְּרֹאשׁ הַגַּג אֲבָל אֵין מַשְׁקִין אוֹתוֹ:

7

We may apply red paint to a tree25 and we may load it with stones.26We may hoe under vines and under olive trees.27 If [these activities are intended] to make the trees flourish, they are forbidden. If they are intended to close their cracks, it is permitted.

ז

סוֹקְרִין אֶת הָאִילָן בְּסִקְרָא. וְטוֹעֲנִין אוֹתוֹ בַּאֲבָנִים וְעוֹדְרִין תַּחַת הַגְּפָנִים. וְהַמְקַשְׁקֵשׁ בְּזֵיתִים אִם לְהַבְרוֹת אֶת הָאִילָן אָסוּר וְאִם לִסְתֹּם אֶת הַפְּצִימִים מֻתָּר:

8

We may irrigate a beit hashilechin, i.e., a field that is sown [with grain] that is very arid, in the Sabbatical year.28 Similarly, we may cause water to flow from one tree to another in an orchard if there were ten trees dispersed in an area larger than that necessary to sow a se'ah [of grain].29 One should not, however, irrigate the entire orchard.30 If they are closer to each other than that, one may irrigate the entire orchard for them.31

Similarly, [when trees grow in] a field where they are planted distant from each other,32 we can sprinkle the earth with water for the sake of the trees that they will not be ruined.

ח

מַשְׁקִין בֵּית הַשְּׁלָחִין בַּשְּׁבִיעִית וְהִיא שְׂדֵה הַזְּרִיעָה שֶׁצְּמֵאָה בְּיוֹתֵר. וְכֵן שְׂדֵה הָאִילָנוֹת אִם הָיוּ מְרֻחָקִין זֶה מִזֶּה יֶתֶר מֵעֶשֶׂר לְבֵית סְאָה מוֹשְׁכִין אֶת הַמַּיִם מֵאִילָן לְאִילָן. אֲבָל לֹא יַשְׁקוּ אֶת כָּל הַשָּׂדֶה. וְאִם הָיוּ מְקֹרָבִין זֶה לָזֶה עֶשֶׂר לְבֵית סְאָה מַשְׁקִין כָּל הַשָּׂדֶה בִּשְׁבִילָן. וְכֵן עֲפַר הַלָּבָן מַרְבִּיצִין אוֹתוֹ בְּמַיִם בַּשְּׁבִיעִית בִּשְׁבִיל הָאִילָנוֹת שֶׁלֹּא יִפָּסְדוּ:

9

One may dig a pit at the roots of a grapevine [to collect water].33 One may make an irrigation ditch at the outset and one may fill the water reservoirs34 with water.

ט

וְעוֹשִׂין עוּגִיּוֹת לַגְּפָנִים. וְעוֹשִׂין אֶת אַמַּת הַמַּיִם כַּתְּחִלָּה וּמְמַלְּאִין אֶת הַנְּקָעִים מַיִם:

10

Why were all these activities allowed? For if he will not irrigate [the field], the land will become parched and all the trees in it will die. Since the prohibition against these activities and the like is Rabbinic in origin, they did not impose their decrees in these instances.35 For according to Scriptural Law, a prohibition applies only to the two primary categories and their two derivatives, as explained.36

י

וּמִפְּנֵי מָה הִתִּירוּ כָּל אֵלֶּה. שֶׁאִם לֹא יַשְׁקֶה תֵּעָשֶׂה הָאָרֶץ מְלֵחָה וְיָמוּת כָּל עֵץ שֶׁבָּהּ. וְהוֹאִיל וְאִסּוּר הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלּוּ וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶם מִדִּבְרֵיהֶם לֹא גָּזְרוּ עַל אֵלּוּ שֶׁאֵין אָסוּר מִן הַתּוֹרָה אֶלָּא אוֹתָן שְׁנֵי אָבוֹת וּשְׁתֵּי תּוֹלָדוֹת שֶׁלָּהֶם כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:

11

When the number of those who impose their desires by force increased and the gentile kings required the Jews to supply food37 for their soldiers, [the Sages] permitted [the people] to sow only those crops that are necessary for the servants of the king alone.38 Similarly, if a person of force compelled someone to perform labor in the Sabbatical year without pay, for the service of the king or the like, he may do so.39

יא

מִשֶּׁרַבּוּ הָאַנָּסִין וְהִטִּילוּ מַלְכֵי עַכּוּ''ם עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל לַעֲשׂוֹת מַחֲנוֹת לְחֵילוֹתֵיהֶן הִתִּירוּ לִזְרֹעַ בַּשְּׁבִיעִית דְּבָרִים שֶׁצְּרִיכִין לָהֶם עַבְדֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ בִּלְבַד. וְכֵן מִי שֶׁכְּפָאוֹ אַנָּס לַעֲשׂוֹת בַּשְּׁבִיעִית בְּחִנָּם כְּמוֹ עֲבוֹדַת הַמֶּלֶךְ וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן הֲרֵי זֶה עוֹשֶׂה:

12

When a person plants [crops] during the Sabbatical year whether in inadvertent or willful violation, he should uproot them, because the Jews are suspect with regard to [the prohibitions of the] Sabbatical year.40 If we would allow a person who [sowed] inadvertently to keep the crops, a person who [sowed] intentionally would say: "I did so inadvertently."41

יב

הַנּוֹטֵעַ בַּשְּׁבִיעִית בֵּין בְּשׁוֹגֵג בֵּין בְּמֵזִיד יַעֲקֹר. מִפְּנֵי שֶׁיִּשְׂרָאֵל חֲשׁוּדִין עַל הַשְּׁבִיעִית. אִם תֹּאמַר בְּשׁוֹגֵג יְקַיֵּם יֹאמַר הַמֵּזִיד שׁוֹגֵג הָיִיתִי:

13

When one plows his field, breaks its ground,42 or fertilizes it43in the Sabbatical year so that it will be better to sow in the following year, we penalize him and [prohibit] him from sowing it in the following year. He may not hire it out to others. Instead, he must leave it fallow. If he dies, however, his son may sow it.44

יג

הַחוֹרֵשׁ אֶת שָׂדֵהוּ אוֹ נָרָהּ אוֹ זִבְּלָהּ בַּשְּׁבִיעִית כְּדֵי שֶׁתִּהְיֶה יָפָה לִזְרִיעָה בְּמוֹצָאֵי שְׁבִיעִית קוֹנְסִין אוֹתוֹ וְלֹא יִזְרָעֶנָּה בְּמוֹצָאֵי שְׁבִיעִית. וְאֵין חוֹכְרִין אוֹתָהּ מִמֶּנּוּ כְּדֵי לְזָרְעָהּ אֶלָּא תְּהִי בּוּרָה לְפָנָיו. וְאִם מֵת יִזְרָעֶנָּה בְּנוֹ:

14

When a person removes thorns from his field in the Sabbatical year to improve it for the following year or removes stones from it, even though he is forbidden to do so,45 we do not penalize him. He is permitted to sow it in the following year.

יד

הַמַּעֲבִיר קוֹצִים מֵאַרְצוֹ בַּשְּׁבִיעִית כְּדֵי לְתַקְּנָהּ לְמוֹצָאֵי שְׁבִיעִית. אוֹ שֶׁסִּקֵּל מִמֶּנָּה אֲבָנִים אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינוֹ רַשַּׁאי לֹא קָנְסוּ אוֹתוֹ וּמֻתָּר לוֹ לְזָרְעָהּ בְּמוֹצָאֵי שְׁבִיעִית:

15

[The following laws apply when a person] buries turnips, radishes, and the like46 in the Sabbatical year. If some of their leaves were revealed, he need not be concerned.47 If not, it is forbidden.48 When someone buries wild onions or the like, he should place at least four kabbim in the height of a handbreadth49and place a handbreadth of earth above them. He should bury them in a place where people walk so that they will not grow.

It is permitted to rip off the protruding stalks of rice in the Sabbatical year,50 but one should not cut them off.

טו

הַטּוֹמֵן לֶפֶת וּצְנוֹנוֹת וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן בַּשְּׁבִיעִית אִם הָיוּ מִקְצָת הֶעָלִין מְגֻלִּין אֵינוֹ חוֹשֵׁשׁ וְאִם לָאו אָסוּר. הַטּוֹמֵן אֶת הַלּוּף וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן לֹא יִפְחֹת מֵאַרְבַּע קַבִּים עַל גֹּבַהּ טֶפַח וְטֶפַח עָפָר עַל גַּבָּיו. וְטוֹמְנוֹ בִּמְקוֹם דְּרִיסַת הָאָדָם כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִצְמַח. וּמֻתָּר לְמָרֵס בְּאֹרֶז בַּשְּׁבִיעִית אֲבָל לֹא יְכַסֵּחַ:

16

At the outset, [the Rabbis] would say: A person may gather wood, stones, and grass from his field, provided he takes the larger ones51 alone, so that his intent is not to clear the land,52 but from his colleague's field, he may take small and larger pieces.53 When there was an increase in the number of transgressors, i.e., people who intended to clear their fields, but would excuse themselves, saying: "We are only taking the larger pieces," they forbade a person from gathering wood and stones from his own field, [permitting this] only from a colleague's field.54 Even then, [the leniency was granted] only when he does not do so in order that he exchange the favor,55 i.e., he does not tell his colleague: "See how much of a favor I did for you, for I have cleared your field."

טז

בָּרִאשׁוֹנָה הָיוּ אוֹמְרִים מְלַקֵּט אָדָם עֵצִים וַאֲבָנִים וַעֲשָׂבִים מִתּוֹךְ שָׂדֵהוּ. וְהוּא שֶׁיִּטּל הַגַּס הַגַּס כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִתְכַּוֵּן לְנַקּוֹת הָאָרֶץ. אֲבָל מִשְּׂדֵה חֲבֵרוֹ נוֹטֵל בֵּין דַּק בֵּין גַּס. מִשֶּׁרַבּוּ עוֹבְרֵי עֲבֵרָה שֶׁמִּתְכַּוְּנִין לְנַקּוֹת וְאוֹמְרִין הַגַּס הַגַּס אָנוּ נוֹטְלִין. אָסְרוּ לִטּל אָדָם מִשָּׂדֵהוּ אֶלָּא מִתּוֹךְ שְׂדֵה חֲבֵרוֹ וְהוּא שֶׁלֹּא יְלַקֵּט בְּטוֹבָה. שֶׁלֹּא יֹאמַר לוֹ רְאֵה כַּמָּה טוֹב עָשִׂיתִי לְךָ שֶׁהֲרֵי נִקֵּיתִי שָׂדְךָ:

17

When a person's animal is standing in his field, he may gather [all types of grasses]56 and bring them to it, for [the presence of] his animal indicates his [intent].57 Similarly, if his cooking range is located there, he may gather everything58 and kindle it, for [the presence of] his range indicates his [intent].

יז

הָיְתָה בְּהֶמְתּוֹ עוֹמֶדֶת בְּתוֹךְ שָׂדֵהוּ מְלַקֵּט וּמֵבִיא לְפָנֶיהָ. שֶׁבְּהֶמְתּוֹ מוֹכַחַת עָלָיו. וְכֵן אִם הָיְתָה שָׁם כִּירָתוֹ מְלַקֵּט הַכּל וּמַדְלִיק. שֶׁכִּירָתוֹ מוֹכַחַת עָלָיו:

18

If a person cuts down a tree or two to use as wood,59 he may dig out their roots.60 If he cuts down three or more next to each other, he should not dig out their roots, because then he is improving his land.61 Instead, he should cut off the portion above the earth and leave the roots in the ground.

When does the above apply? In one's own field. In one's colleague's field, by contrast, it is permitted to dig out the roots.62

יח

הַקּוֹצֵץ אִילָן אוֹ שְׁנַיִם לְעֵצִים הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר לְשַׁרְשָׁן. קָצַץ שְׁלֹשָׁה אוֹ יֶתֶר זֶה בְּצַד זֶה לֹא יְשָׁרֵשׁ. שֶׁהֲרֵי מְתַקֵּן אֶת הָאָרֶץ. אֶלָּא קוֹצֵץ מֵעַל הָאָרֶץ וּמַנִּיחַ שָׁרָשָׁיו בָּאָרֶץ. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים מִתּוֹךְ שֶׁלּוֹ. אֲבָל מִשְּׂדֵה חֲבֵרוֹ מֻתָּר לְשָׁרֵשׁ:

19

When a person is chopping [branches from] an olive tree63 for wood, he should not cover the place [where the branches grew] with earth, because this involves performing work [with the tree].64 He may, however, cover it with stones or with straw.

יט

הַמַּבְקִיעַ בְּזַיִת לִטּל עֵצִים לֹא יְחַפֶּה מְקוֹם הַבִּקּוּעַ בְּעָפָר מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהִיא עֲבוֹדָה אֲבָל מְכַסֶּה בַּאֲבָנִים אוֹ בְּקַשׁ:

20

One who trims the ends of branches of vines and cuts down reeds, may cut them in his ordinary pattern with a hatchet, a sickle, or a saw, or with any other utensil he desires.65

כ

הַמְזַנֵּב בַּגְּפָנִים וְהַקּוֹצֵץ קָנִים הֲרֵי זֶה קוֹצֵץ כְּדַרְכּוֹ בְּקַרְדֹּם וּבְמַגָּל וּבִמְגֵרָה וּבְכָל מַה שֶּׁיִּרְצֶה:

21

One should not chop wood from a wild fig tree from which wood has never been cut before66 in the same way as one cuts wood from it in other years, because trimming a tree is [one of the forbidden] tasks involved with trees, for through trimming the tree, it will grow and increase. If he needs its wood, he should trim it in an unusual manner.

כא

אֵין קוֹצְצִין בְּתוּלַת שִׁקְמָה בַּשְּׁבִיעִית כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁקּוֹצְצִין בִּשְׁאָר הַשָּׁנִים מִפְּנֵי שֶׁקְּצִיצָתָהּ עֲבוֹדַת אִילָן. שֶׁבִּקְצִיצָה זוֹ תִּגְדַּל וְתוֹסִיף. וְאִם צָרִיךְ לְעֵצֶיהָ קוֹצֵץ אוֹתָהּ שֶׁלֹּא כְּדֶרֶךְ עֲבוֹדָתָהּ:

22

How should he trim it? [He should cut either]the branches close to the ground or those higher than ten handbreadths.67

When a tree is split,68 it can be tied together in the Sabbatical year. [The intent is not that] it will mend,69 but that [the split] will not increase.70

כב

כֵּיצַד קוֹצְצָהּ. מֵעִם הָאָרֶץ אוֹ לְמַעְלָה מֵעֲשָׂרָה טְפָחִים. אִילָן שֶׁנִּפְשַׁח קוֹשְׁרִין אוֹתוֹ בַּשְּׁבִיעִית. לֹא שֶׁיַּעֲלֶה אֶלָּא שֶׁלֹּא יוֹסִיף:

Test Yourself on This Chapter

Footnotes
1.

Sefer HaMitzvot (positive commandment 135) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 112) includes this commandment among the 613 mitzvot of the Torah.

There is a difference of opinion among the commentaries if the mitzvah is incumbent on the gavra (the person himself) or on the land (the cheftza, the object). The commentaries note that the Rambam's wording in this halachah indicates that the mitzvah is on the person, he should rest. Nevertheless, the wording he uses when enumerating the mitzvot - that "the land should rest" - puts the emphasis on the land.

2.

The citation of this verse reflects a general principle in the Mishneh Torah: that the Rambam will occasionally favor the understanding of a verse proposed by the Jerusalem Talmud even though the Babylonian Talmud interprets it otherwise. To explain: the Babylonian Talmud (Mo'ed Kattan 4a) inteprets this verse as a prohibition to work the land on the Sabbath. It is the Jerusalem Talmud (Sh'vi'it 1:3) which understands it as referring to the Sabbatical year.

From Chapter 4, Halachah 1, it appears that here the Rambam is speaking of harvesting for the sake of improving the land, not for gathering its crops. The intent appears to be that harvesting produce will enable the land to produce better produce in the future.

3.

This mitzvah is incumbent both on men and women.

4.

Sefer HaMitzvot (negative commandment 220) and Sefer HaChinuch (mitzvah 326) include this commandment among the 613 mitzvot of the Torah.

5.

As indicated by Halachah 20 and notes, the intent here is trimming the top of the tree and not the end of its branches.

6.

The term betzirah whose root is used in Leviticus 25:5 is usually employed specifically with regard to harvesting grapes. Nevertheless, in a wider sense, it refers to harvesting any fruit.

7.

Because like sowing, trimming contributes to the growth of the tree (Radbaz).

8.

In Leviticus 25:5: "The aftergrowth of your harvest you shall not reap and the grapes you had designated you shall not gather."

9.

And performing work with trees.

10.

Plowing is explicitly mentioned in the positive commandment for observing the Sabbatical year, but not in the prohibition.

Although Mo'ed Kattan 3a uses techniques of Biblical exegesis to show that other labors are forbidden, the Rambam considers these teachings merely as asmachteot, citing a verse as support for a concept forbidden by Rabbinic Law.

11.

To improve the land, not because he needs the stones. See Chapter 2, Halachah 10.

12.

Implants the head of a branch of a vine or tree in the ground so that roots will grow to improve its nurture.

13.

In his Commentary to the Mishnah (Sh'vi'it 2:2), the Rambam writes that this is beneficial for certain trees.

14.

As will be explained (see Halachah 7), we are permitted to perform labor to maintain a tree's wellbeing. These activities, however, are intended to foster its growth.

15.

Both of these activities speed their ripening (ibid.:5).

16.

Bind their branches so that they grow upward rather than spread out (ibid.:6).

17.

For this prepares the land on which they grow to be used to plant crops.

18.

And not on land that could be used for crops in which instance, the plowing would benefit him.

19.

For this resembles sowing them.

20.

Because we do not usually sow in dung.

21.

For this does not involve working with the land.

22.

A fragrant herb, also used for medicinal purposes.

23.

I.e., prevent them from being damaged. The Radbaz questions why the aloe plant is singled out; seemingly the same principle applies with regard to all plants. He explains that since the aloe grows on the roofs, it is in need of shade. Our Sages permitted a person to construct a shelter to protect the aloe from the sun. This is not considered as forbidden labor.

24.

For that would promote their growth, not merely maintain them.

25.

Chulin 78a states that this is intended to attract notice to the tree and cause people to pray that its fruit do not fall prematurely. This is permitted because it does not involve caring for the tree.

26.

This weakens the tree's strength and thus prevents it from causing its fruit to fall prematurely (ibid.). Since it weakens the tree, it is permitted.

27.

The Kessef Mishneh quotes Rashi (Mo'ed Kattan 3a) who explains that the words oder and kishkush are synonymous. The difference is only with regard to the type of plants.

28.

For otherwise all the trees in the field will die, as stated in Halachah 10.

29.

Hilchot Shabbat 16:3 defines an area in which a se'ah of grain is sown as 50 cubits by 50 cubits. This leniency is permitted to make sure that the trees do not die.

30.

Since it is unnecessary to do that to provide the individual trees with water.

31.

For that is the most effective way of watering the trees, since they are close to each other.

32.

I.e., ten in an area larger than 50 cubits by 50 cubits. Our translation is based on the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Sh'vi'it 2:10).

33.

Our translation is based on the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Mo'ed Kattan 1:1).

34.

Our translation is based on the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Kelayim 5:4).

35.

So the trees will not die.

36.

In Halachot 2-3.

37.

Our translation is based on the authoritative manuscripts and early printings of the Mishneh Torah. The standard publish text follows a slightly different version.

38.

This leniency was granted even though sowing is forbidden by Scriptural Law. It must, however, be emphasized that (as stated in Chapter 10, Halachah 9), from the later years of the First Temple period, the observance of the Sabbatical year only had the status of Rabbinic commandment. The Radbaz maintains that such leniency would be granted even if the Scriptural ordinance was in effect.

39.

For since he is being threatened, it makes no difference whether the person threatening him is a king or an ordinary person. Since there is danger involved, leniency is granted (Radbaz, Kessef Mishneh).

The Kessef Mishneh emphasizes that this leniency is granted only when the person does not receive payment for his activity. He is forbidden to take payment, even if he is being compelled for then a person could perform such labors and excuse himself, claiming that he was compelled to do so.

40.

There are many who sow their fields and reap their crops. See Chapter 8 which lists many safeguards instituted for that reason.

41.

Terumot 2:3 contrasts sowing on the Sabbath with sowing during the Sabbatical year, explaining that the Jews are not suspect to violate the Sabbath. Hence, the results of the inadvertent violation of the Sabbath laws are not forbidden.

42.

This is the translation of the word nirah, based on the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Sh'vi'it 4:3, Pe'ah 2:1). The term differs from plowing in that it is a far less thorough activity. See Rashi's gloss to Jeremiah 4:3 which explains that it refers primarily to the removal of weeds, thorns, and the like.

43.

In his Commentary to the Mishnah (Sh'vi'it 4:2), the Rambam explains that this applies even if the field is fertilized by making it a corral for animals, so that their manure will fertilize it and improve its quality.

44.

For the penalty is imposed on him personally, not on the land. Note the contrast to Chapter 3, Halachah 11.

45.

As stated in Halachot 4 and 16.

46.

In these eras, there was no refrigeration and vegetables would be preserved by placing them in the ground.

47.

As long as the leaves are revealed, one is not planting in the ordinary manner (Radbaz). Burying the plants in this manner is permitted, because he does not desire that the plants grow in the earth; they are merely buried there [the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Kilayim 1:9)].

48.

Because he appears to be planting them.

49.

If they are not packed so densely, burying them resembles planting [ibid. (Sh'vi'it 5:2)].

50.

Our translation is based on Rav Kappach's notes to the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (ibid. 2:10). There the Rambam explains the term yichsech, but does not explain the term mereis. The Radbaz and the Kessef Mishneh interpret the latter term as meaning that it is permitted to sprinkle water on the rice plants. The contrast to the following clause supports Rav Kappach's interpretation.

51.

Those that stick out and attract attention [the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Pe'ah 6:11; Sh'vi'it 4:1)].

52.

I.e., when clearing the land, one takes smaller stones and pieces as well as larger ones, so that the land will not have any foreign matter upon it.

53.

For we do not suspect that he will be intending to clear his colleague's field.

54.

It would appear that a person would be permitted to gather both larger and small pieces from his colleague's field. The Radbaz, however, grants this leniency only with regard to larger pieces.

55.

Our translation is based on the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Sh'vi'it 4:1). There he emphasizes that the person clearing the field is expecting something in return.

56.

Not only the large ones permitted in the previous halachah. Even though the person's field will be cleared in this manner, since this is not his intent, and the labor of clearing a field involves merely a Rabbinic prohibition, stringency was not enforced.

57.

That he is seeking to provide his animal with food and not clear his field.

58.

The Radbaz states that this leniency is granted only when the owner takes both the large and small pieces. If he takes only small pieces, it is forbidden because he is obviously intending to clear his field.

59.

See Chapter 5, Halachot 17-18, which restricts cutting down trees for kindling once they have begun to grow fruit.

60.

Even though it involves work with the land, since he desires the wood, it is permitted.

61.

The place where three trees can grow is significant and can be used for planting. Thus by removing the stumps, it is as if he is clearing a field for himself [the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Sh'vi'it 5:4)].

62.

The intent is not that one has uninhibited license to cut down a colleague's tree even in the Sabbatical year. Instead, if the tree has been cut down, one may uproot the stump.

63.

This law also applies to other species. See Sh'vi'it 4:5 and the gloss of the Ra'avad.

64.

This is forbidden by Scriptural Law.

65.

In his Commentary to the Mishnah (Sh'vi'it 4:7), the Rambam explains that there is no need for a deviation in the way he trims the branches, because he is not intending to trim the tree. To explain his statements: Although trimming is one of the activities forbidden by Scriptural Law, this refers to trimming the top of the tree, not the ends of its branches (Tifferet Yisrael to the above mishnah).

66.

Our translation is taken from the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Sh'vi'it 5:5)].

67.

For cutting these branches is not that beneficial to the tree (Bava Batra 80b).

68.

Here, also, our translation is taken from the Rambam's Commentary to the Mishnah (Sh'vi'it 5:5)], which quotes I Samuel 15:33 as support.

69.

I.e., that the split will be healed. This is forbidden, because this would be improving the tree.

70.

This is permitted, because this is maintaining the tree.

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The Mishneh Torah was the Rambam's (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon) magnum opus, a work spanning hundreds of chapters and describing all of the laws mentioned in the Torah. To this day it is the only work that details all of Jewish observance, including those laws which are only applicable when the Holy Temple is in place. Participating in one of the annual study cycles of these laws (3 chapters/day, 1 chapter/day, or Sefer Hamitzvot) is a way we can play a small but essential part in rebuilding the final Temple.
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