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i saw an article a few years back, I believe written based on a shiur by Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, promoting heter mechira.

Towards the end of the article, he was advocating why heter mechira was preferable over other options. IIRC, the reason to prefer heter mechira over importing from outside of Israel was because it's a mitzvah to eat the holy shmita produce (according to Ramban, hasagos al sefer hamitzvos, third mitzvas aseh).

I remember being puzzled by this at the time. One basic premise of the heter mechira is that land owned by non-Jews in Israel lacks (full) kedusha and therefore there is no prohibition of shmita (like Rav Yosef Karo's opinion, which is followed by "minhag yerushalayim.") That's why selling to a non-Jew would help at all. So to the extent that the produce has no shmita sanctity, how can there be a mitzvah to eat it?

Therefore I would like to clarify:

  1. Did Rabbi Aviner actually make this claim? Is there a copy of his drasha available including this specific claim?
  2. Are there legitimate halachic opinions which say that the mitzvah of eating shmita produce (according to the Ramban) applies even to produce from non-jews, ven according to the Rav Yosef Karo's position in which are treated as if they lack sanctity? (Of course, according to Mabit that non-jewish produce is still kadosh, the mitzvah would apply. I'm asking specifically according to the Beis Yosef.)

(Another possibility- perhaps Rabbi Aviner is assuming that the sale doesn't really work to actually make it owned by non-jews, and thus it still remains with the original kedusha; and yet the heter mechira would still be valid as a rabbinic "fake sale" or ha'arama)?


Update: This is the article that I remembered seeing. In it he is clearly advocating relying on heter mechira as the proper course and obligatory, not just as a leniency.

At the end when discussing not buying from outside of Israel, he finishes off by saying:

I also learned that there is holiness in the fruit of the Land of Israel (Bach Orach Chaim 208) and even more so in the fruit of the seventh year according to the Ramban. Notice I did not say that I am holy. I am a regular Jew, but if The Holy One, Blessed be He, decreed that when I act like a regular Jew and when I eat fruit of our Holy Land, I absorb holiness within me – this is His will and I am happy to perform His will.

It is true that he is not addressing the "mitzvah" of eating fruit, but rather that there is holiness in the fruit. The Ramban says that the mitzvah is to eat the holy fruit. However, The question still remains- what is the source to say that the fruit which grew in a non-jewish field still (according to Rav Yosef Karo) has the kedushas shviis?

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  • Maybe he meant from the consumer's perspective. If you have an orange from Israel and an orange from Spain, a consumer who doesn't believe in the sale's efficacy should prefer the Israeli one because of Ramban, and not buy the Spanish one in protest of the forbidden labors done on the possibly sold farm? – Double AA Apr 19 at 20:07
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    Maybe he meant it's a mitzva to eat from the land of Israel generally, not the Ramban's special mitzva during shemitta? That could plausibly apply to gentile owned land even for R Karo. – Double AA Apr 19 at 20:08
  • Maybe even the Mabit (or someone who holds like him about the resulting kedusha of the fruit) would let a Jew work in a non-Jew's field? The argument being that the relevant mitzvot don't apply to the land only whilst in the gentiles hands, and so too the fruit. Once the land transfers hands to a Jew, the sanctity reasserts itself, and so too the fruit. – Double AA Apr 19 at 20:28
  • @DoubleAA you raise good points (as usual). I'm pretty sure he was emphasizing the Ramban's mitzvah, and how he personally chooses the heter mechira produce in order to eat kadosh food. (I could be mistaken, so I want to see the article again if possible.) I tried avoiding the issue of the Mabit and working the land- I don't remember off-hand the different positions about it- but at least it's logical that (according to him) the food itself is kadosh, and thus the mitzvah of eating it could apply. – Binyomin Apr 19 at 20:40
  • @DoubleAA as a quick reference check out this article from Shaalvim. In the section on heter mechira it not only says that heter mechira is dependent on the beis yosef's opinion (which is main accepted opinion), but that it's not even clear if even according to the beis yosef Jews could work a non-jewish field. shaalvim.org/Uploads/files/Kitzur%20Hilchot%20Shmitta.pdf – Binyomin Apr 20 at 5:19

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