Last year (5775) was a shemitah year, as such, etrogim produced in Israel end up becoming sh'vi'it (produce of the seventh year). One of the boxes I saw mentioned that the etrog should be disposed of differently than in other years (it should be eaten by 15 Shevat or returned to Eretz Yisrael).

This brought up a few questions for me, namely:

  1. How are Israeli-grown etrogim even able to be sold?
  2. How does heter mechira affect things grown for the purpose of fulfilling mitzvot? (That is, do they need to be grown by Jews and does heter mechira affect that?)
  3. What is the source for the things mentioned on this etrog box?

2 Answers 2


How are Israeli-grown etrogim even able to be sold?

  • Havla'ah : You pay (more) for other things and get an Etrog sh'vi'it for 'free'. It might be a bit tricky since there are opinions that Lulav and Hadas are also sh'vi'it. But the payment can be for Arava/the Etrog's Pitam(which is sort of tree and has no Dine'i Shemita), the 'fancy' box of the Etrog, or any other 'something' (Etrog Shemita is free for EATING, a Bracha is something else...)
  • Hotza'a : Someone took the time and effort to pick,clean and deliver that Etrog, you pay for his job (But, there is known price for all of the above and normally the profit is bigger and cannot be considered as Hechzer-Hotza'a)
  • Shali'ach : I believe this is like Otzar-Beit-Din, the seller is your Shali'ach and you pay for his job (as much as he requsts). [Frankly, didn't understand this one]

How does heter mechira affect things grown for the purpose of fulfilling mitzvot?

The land is like any other Nochri's land, shouldn't matter what is grown there.

What is the source for the things mentioned on this etrog box?

  • That was from a Shi'ur I had, but there should be many sources about this. 1
    – Zeev
    Sep 26, 2015 at 20:11
  • I think that last one can only be used when you buy closed-box, and you're trusting them that it's kosher (they check before they put it in the box). Then, if it's not kosher, they will allow you to return it.
    – MTL
    Sep 26, 2015 at 20:39
  • So how does it work out that the cost of an ethrogh this year and the year before are the same if we aren't paying for the ethrogh and instead are paying for the labor and the box? Aren't we still paying for those things the year before and it's oddly enough the same price overall?
    – Aaron
    Sep 27, 2015 at 3:37
  • @Aaron Not everyone pay the same price this year. I know a place that sells every Etrog for 30 (and technically you pay for a small Sucot-booklet and get an etrog for free). Havla'a works like that. Yo can ask the same about any Shechar Shabat, How come the payment I get for 5 days equals 7 days of job ?
    – Zeev
    Sep 27, 2015 at 4:56
  • @Zeev Where can i learn more about this concept? Because while i understand that it may be the halacha, it sounds weird to me
    – Aaron
    Sep 27, 2015 at 5:11

Rabbi Kaganoff answers your questions and says:

The Torah Writings of Rabbi Yirmiyohu Kaganoff


For the most part, those living in North America are concerned less about whether they may import esrogim from Eretz Yisroel [after Shmita], and more about what to do with such an esrog after Sukkos. The esrog keeps its kedushas shvi’is until it becomes inedible, and one may not actively facilitate its decay process nor ruin it in any way.

According to one approach suggested by the Tzitz HaKodesh, one may be required to ship the esrog back to Eretz Yisroel after Sukkos. However, most authorities do not require this.

Assuming that return shipping is not required, one still may not destroy the esrog after Sukkos, but one is not required to preserve it. Therefore, the simplest solution is to remember not to wrap up the esrog on Hoshanah Rabbah. Without wrapping or refrigeration, the esrog will soon dry out and become inedible. At that point, one may dispose of it.

When we look around the shul on Sukkos and see everyone holding his own set of arba’ah minim, we should sing praises to Hashem for helping us fulfill these mitzvos so easily in comparison to earlier times, when it was common for an entire community to share one set. At the same time, we should remember the modern farmer in Israel who observed shmittah with true mesiras nefesh, thereby attesting to the message of shmittah — that the Ribbono Shel Olam created the world in six days and rested on the seventh.

Another post says

Beth Israel - Malden - Annual Halacha Guidebook -

Rabbi Yitzchak Zev Rabinowitz

Important Notice Regarding Your Etrog - This year has been the Shmitta year in Israel and its produce has a special sanctity. If your Esrog is from Israel you may not dispose of it after Sukkot as you normally would, it must be dried out completely before you may dispose of it. Therefore, at the conclusion of using your etrog, leave it open to the air which will help it dry out. It should take a couple of weeks for it to dry out.

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