Shemita in your gardens and yards
The actions which are Torah-prohibited on Shemita are: sowing, planting, harvesting, pruning and plowing (there is some discussion regarding plowing).
Examples of actions which are rabbinically prohibited are: tilling, watering, fertilizing, spraying, applying substances to trees in order to keep away bugs etc., covering plants to protect them from heat, cold and wind, trimming, weeding, removing rocks or dirt from a plant, straightening ground, spreading ground in a place ready for planting, making holes for planting, etc.
Still, in order to save plants and trees from dying or suffering irreparable damage (or damage which can only be reversed through the investment of large sums of money), one is allowed to do those that are only rabbinically prohibited. Such actions are also allowed in order to save the fruit on the tree, in quantity and in quality. All the above is permissible also when there is a doubt that significant damage might occur.
When it comes to flowers, grass, etc. – things that are grown for beauty, not for fruit – one should not allow these actions if the damage is temporary for the shemita year alone, unless the result will be significant monetary loss in returning the garden to its original state.
Also, though we have yet to explain what sefichin are, one cannot save them from harm because one actually needs to uproot them when they grow in one’s garden.
These Shemita posts were written by Rav Yoni Rosensweig and Benjy Singer for the My Shteiblech Project. My Shteiblech is a PORTAL of the most accurate information and details of shiurim, cultural and social programmes going on throughout Israel, with a focus on Jerusalem.
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