On Shmita one is not allowed to work the land (in Israel).

Would it be permissible to set up on a timer (or a more sophisticated version) an irrigation system that waters the land and gives it the necessary nutrients for it to grow and be healthy for the whole year of Shmita, without having to touch or tend to the land?

1 Answer 1


According to a shiur I heard recently, there's a Machlokes Rishonim (early Poskim argue) about whether the Mitzva of Shmitta is:

  • Don't work your land - but your land may work.
  • Your land may not work - no matter who and how the work involved.

This - apparently - directly affects the answer to your question, as well as to whether you may lease/sell your land to a non-Jew during Shmitta.

However, as was pointed out at the shiur, even if one permits it, it would be a solution only as long as the watering system doesn't malfunction. You would not be allowed to adjust the clock (even on rainy days) nor fix the piping during Shmitta.

Rav Chaim Kanievsky שליט"א also discusses this in the footnotes of his Derech Emuna on Hil. Shmitta, but I don't have the exact reference.

  • 1
    "You would not be allowed to adjust the clock (even on rainy days)": setting up an n-hour pause is an act of not working the land. I wonder whether that'd be forbidden. +1, anyway.
    – msh210
    Jun 18, 2014 at 19:14
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    Why would selling be a Nafka Minah? At that point, it isn't yours nor are you working it.
    – Double AA
    Jun 18, 2014 at 19:14
  • Behar 25:2 ושבתה הארץ. Ki Tisa 34:21 בחריש ובקציר תשבות.
    – gaagu
    Jun 18, 2014 at 23:49
  • @DoubleAA: Re: Selling: Depends on whether a non-Jew can fully buy land in E.Y. - also a Machlokes Rishonim, IIRC. Jun 19, 2014 at 8:12
  • @gaagu - correct - depends which pasuk they learn it from. Jun 19, 2014 at 8:12

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