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Calculating Arlah Years

Q: In June 2010, I planted a dwarf apple tree that I purchased from a nursery. May I eat the fruit of the tree as soon it they grow or must I wait the arlah years?

A: The Torah says that one must wait 3 years after a tree is planted before one can eat from its fruit; this mitzvah is called “arlah”. During the fourth year the fruit are called “revai” and may be eaten only after being redeemed in a specific manner. [Speak to your Rabbi about how to redeem revai.] Any fruit that began growing after the end of the fourth year may be eaten without restriction.

Typically mitzvos that depend on the land are applicable only in the land of Israel; arlah is an exception as it applies worldwide. Therefore your tree is subject to arlah restrictions and one may not eat or derive benefit from any arlah fruits.

Since you planted your tree in the summer of 2010/5770 it will finish its first year on Rosh Hashanah 2010/5771, its second year on Rosh Hashanah 2011/5772, and the third year of arlah on the 15th of Shevat of 5773 (January 26, 2013). (A young sapling finishes its years on Rosh Hashanah (1 Tishrei), while a tree (older than three years) finishes its years on the 15th of Shevat.) From 15 Shevat 5773 to 15 Shevat 5774 the apples are revai and should be redeemed.

If your tree was older than one year old when you purchased it, the arlah years may be shortened. (Answer by Rabbi Mordechai Millunchick)