According to Judith R. Baskin (Cambridge Dictionary of Judaism and Jewish Culture, 2011, pp. 134-135),

"The biblical law of "uncircumcised" fruit (orlah) prohibits consuming fruit picked from a tree in the Land of Israel within three years of its planting (Lev 19:23). According to rabbinic interpretation of "fourth-year planting" (neta revai) ...may only be eaten in Jerusalem unless it is redeemed."

According to the Mishna (Kidushin ch.1, #9), these laws are not actually restricted to the land of Israel, but must be observed worldwide because they are halacha l'Moshe mi-Sinai.

So how do we know that fruit that is sold in stores in America, etc., follows these laws? If not, why are we allowed to eat it?

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    Safek Orlah in the Diaspora is permitted. It's a halacha lemoshe misinai. See bavli kiddushin 37b or 38b or so. – Double AA Feb 13 '15 at 14:11
  • @DoubleAA But if you know the produce is from Israel, it's a different story. – Fred Feb 13 '15 at 20:37
  • @DoubleAA What I don't get is why you're suggesting that "it's a halacha lemoshe misinai" that "safek orlah in the diaspora is permitted" (in your first comment). The halacha lemoshe misinai is about orlah, not safek orlah. – SAH Feb 15 '15 at 5:08
  • @SAH Regarding sources permitting safek orlah in the diaspora: The Mishna (Orlah 3:9) permits it, and this is the practical ruling found (for example) in Rambam (Hil. Ma'achalos Asuros 10:10) and Shulchan Aruch (YD 294:9). – Fred Feb 15 '15 at 6:58
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    @SAH That too is a halacha lemoshe misinai. On Kiddushin 39a it says: R. Assi said in R. Johanan's name: [The prohibition of] ‘orlah in the Diaspora is a halachah of Moses from Sinai. Said R. Zera to R. Assi: But we learnt: Doubtful ‘orlah is forbidden in the Land but permitted in Syria. He was momentarily non—plussed; [then] he answered him, Perhaps it [the Mosaic halachah] was thus given: Doubtful [‘orlah] is permitted [in the Diaspora], certain [‘orlah] is forbidden. (Soncino translation; FWIW I don't see the word "perhaps" anywhere in the original.) – Double AA Feb 18 '15 at 8:46

Shulchan Arukh YD 294:9 (based on Kiddushin 39a) rules that doubtful (safek) Orlah in the Diaspora is permitted; only certain (vadai) Orlah is prohibited. Even if you know the fruit came from a orchard with Orlah trees, if you don't know which tree it came from then it is permitted. So any fruit you find in the grocery which was not imported from Israel and which you don't know came from an Orlah tree is permitted for consumption.

Incidentally, there is a Machloket (ibid. :7) whether Revai applies in the Diaspora or not. As seen above, though, this is not really very relevant in a grocery setting.

  • Good answer, thanks. However, I don't see why revai could not be relevant in a grocery setting? – SAH Mar 13 '15 at 4:14
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    @SAH Something which is exempt from Orlah is exempt from Revai as well (TTBOMK. I haven't looked at this in depth in a while.) So any fruit you find in the grocery which was not imported from Israel and which you don't know came from a Revai tree is permitted for consumption. – Double AA Mar 13 '15 at 4:33

Since the majority of produce on the market is not Orlah, we can assume that any given fruit etc. it is permissible, using the halachic principle of rov.

(Regarding Reva'i, I'm pretty sure it doesn't apply in the diaspora. The mishna in Kiddushin only mentions Orlah.)

(I'll try to add an explicit source later).

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    @sah you can look at eggs and check. You cant see orlahness – Double AA Feb 13 '15 at 14:14
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    @SAH, concepts of Rov and requirements to check are complex. I suggest breaking things up into separate questions, rather than trying to address everything in comments. In this case, Rov is very different when things are in different categories than when they are the same. Bugs and vegetables are not the same thing, Rov may not apply. When you can check and find something is different than when it is hopelessly intertwined. And different categories have different rules (that is things are botul at different amounts depending on the issue). – Yishai Feb 13 '15 at 16:13
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    @SAH Regarding eggs, see here and here, as well as this article, this article, and this article. – Fred Feb 13 '15 at 20:59
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    @SAH Note that certain types of produce, like romaine lettuce, tend to be badly infested with small bugs. If you eat a head of romaine, you might swallow as many as a couple dozen (or more) whole bugs (which could add up to over 100 biblical prohibitions if they were eaten intentionally). See this article from the OU about checking romaine lettuce. – Fred Feb 13 '15 at 21:11
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    @SAH When it comes to bugs, rov is not sufficient to allow consumption without checking (at least l'chatchila); so long as a mi'ut hamatzui (10 percent according to Mishk'nos Ya'akov Vol. I YD §17, which is a commonly followed opinion) is infested, one must still check every piece (see Shu"t Rashba I §274). (The example of romaine lettuce I mentioned earlier is much worse, as most romaine lettuce contains bugs). Mi'ut hamatzui is a common standard for doubt regarding the presence of a biblical prohibition. (Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/27862). – Fred Feb 15 '15 at 7:19

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