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Many of those who support the concept of the heter mekhirah today rely (at least in part) on their reading of the Rambam in various parts of the Mishneh Torah, most specifically in Hilkhoth Shemittah WiYovel.

While it is true that the Rambam writes there in 4:28-29 that since goyim aren't commanded regarding shemittah that the produce that grows on land owned by them in Eress Yisra'el is permitted, and that in 10:9 he writes also that shevi`ith in his time (as well as in the times of the Talmudh Bavli and Yerushalmi) is observed by force of rabbinic enactment, but does is this enough to justify the concept?

What about the working of the land in the seventh year by Jews, even if the land is owned by non-Jews? Is this permitted? And what about the Rambam's explicit statements in Hilkhoth `Avodah Zarah 10:1-4 regarding the prohibitions of the misswah of Lo Thehonnem wherein he explicitly and specifically says that the selling of land to non-Jews in Eress Yisra'el is expressly forbidden min ha-Torah? Shouldn't everything that the Rambam states in the Mishneh Torah be taken into account before using his statements to justify the concept of a heter mekhirah?

Can the heter mekhirah truly be supported from the halakhic writings of the Rambam?

  • "Shouldn't everything that the Rambam states in the Mishneh Torah be taken into account before using his statements to justify the concept of a heter mekhirah?" Certainly not! Why would you think that? We have no obligation to rule like the Rambam in unrelated areas of Halacha. – Double AA Jan 18 '15 at 22:45
  • Can you source that anyone thinks that the Rambam himself would agree to the full heter mekhira in use today? – Double AA Jan 18 '15 at 22:47
  • @DoubleAA - Why certainly not? If someone is going to maintain that the Rambam supports key ideas of the heter mekhirah concept, then why wouldn't his views on RELATED areas of halakhah be pertinent to understanding those passages? In fact, the Rambam writes in a letter to Yosef Ibn Akhnin(?) that one must be familiar with the whole text to truly understand any one part. I fully agree that there is no obligation to rule like Rambam in any area of halakhah, theoretically, but he is used in part to justify heter mekhirah as a rishon who holds that shemittah is rabbinic and thus can be sold. KT. – user3342 Jan 18 '15 at 23:00
  • @DoubleAA - It is known that Rav Yosef Qafih, z"l, supported the heter mekhirah from the Rambam exclusively as a non-ideal way of dealing with the "problems" presented by the Shevi'ith. However, in his pirush he seems to equivocate `avodath ha-aress in the seventh year with shemittah being rabbinic. I personally prefer the understanding of the Netzi"v and the Arokh HaShulhan HeAthidh. Kol tuv. – user3342 Jan 18 '15 at 23:08
  • @Maimonist ibn 'aqneen – MoriDowidhYa3aqov Jan 18 '15 at 23:09

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