Back to top

(773) 465-3900


EZcRc Login

[email protected]


Shemittah Wine

Q: Someone in my shul told me that they were in the kosher aisle of a store and saw a 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, which is a wine from the shemittah year. He asked me (a) how shemittah produce could be shipped out of Eretz Yisroel, and (b) whether he could drink the wine if he was sure to not spill or waste any of it.

A: During shemittah there are foods which are distributed using the Otzar Beis Din system where – basically – a Beis Din represents all of the consumers by collecting the produce from the hefker fields, bringing it to the cities where people live, and giving it out for “free”. The Beis Din is allowed to charge for their services (delivery, packaging etc.) and they usually hire the farmer to do that work so he can make a few dollars during shemittah. Assuming the Otzar Beis Din is done correctly, that is a good system. [For sources and more details on shemittah, see the articles in Sappirim 1, 2, 4 & 8 at]

Food from the Otzar Beis Din still has kedushas shevi’is such that it cannot be wasted, bought and sold, taken out of Eretz Yisroel, etc. The question is what the status of that food is when the time of biur arrives. Usually, as soon as there is no more of a given fruit (e.g. oranges, apples) in the fields, people must take all of that fruit that they have left in their house and make it available for everyone else. [They can also partake in this fruit, if they take a small amount at a time.] That whole process is called “biur”. Many hold that anything which is part of the Otzar Beis Din “system” does not require a formal biur because it is already setup in the most efficient manner for distribution to everyone. That would justify the fact that the wine made with Otzar Beis Din does not have a formal biur.

Is there kedushas shevi’is after biur? There are strong sources to indicate that after biur the fruit no longer has any kedushas shevi’is, and those who certify the wine that the person in your shul saw are accepting this opinion. Accordingly, once the time of biur passes they hold that the wine may be exported from Eretz Yisroel, it can be bought-and-sold, and the people who buy it do not have to be careful to not waste it. Others assume that kedushas shevi’is remains even after the time of biur, and therefore all of the above would be forbidden.

In different locations, Chazon Ish presents different rulings on this matter, but it is noteworthy that wherever Chazon Ish wrote “instructions” for standard consumers (as opposed to intricate halachic discourses) he wrote that one should be machmir on this question. Accordingly, most hashgochos do not recommend the sale and use of such wine in chutz la’aretz, and for that reason the wines in question are not sold at Hungarian or other cRc certified stores.