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The Torah Learning Library of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah

Kedoshim – The Rosh Yeshiva Responds – Orlah outside of Israel

by Rabbi Dov Linzer (Posted on May 9, 2024)
Topics: Kedoshim, Sefer Vayikra, Torah

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וְכִֽי־תָבֹ֣אוּ אֶל־הָאָ֗רֶץ וּנְטַעְתֶּם֙ כָּל־עֵ֣ץ מַֽאֲכָ֔ל וַֽעֲרַלְתֶּ֥ם עָרְלָת֖וֹ אֶת־פִּרְי֑וֹ שָׁלֹ֣שׁ שָׁנִ֗ים יִהְיֶ֥ה לָכֶ֛ם עֲרֵלִ֖ים לֹ֥א יֵאָכֵֽל

When you enter the land and plant any tree for food, you shall regard its fruit as forbidden. Three years it shall be forbidden for you, not to be eaten (Vayikra 19:23).

QUESTION—California, USA

We are looking at planting some new trees in our backyard and I found some fruit trees that I am interested in.

I wanted to know if the laws of orlah apply outside of Israel, and if so, under what circumstances would I have to wait 3 years before being permitted to eat the fruit?

ANSWER

Orlah does apply outside of the Land of Israel based on Halakha LeMoshe MiSinai (Orlah 3:9); Shulchan Arukh YD 294:7). We are extremely lenient with all cases of doubt, even ones that could be easily checked into (SA YD 294:9).

Does a person have to wait 3 years from the time the tree is replanted in her yard? The answer is “no” as long as the roots always had some of the original dirt, so that the tree could be sustained by them, even for a few days. Given that we are lenient regarding doubts with orlah, one does not have to bring in an expert to assess this. (See SA YD 294:19 and Pitchei Teshuva, no. 13).

So, if this tree had already grown 3 years, and there was sufficient dirt on its roots that it could keep growing a few days, there is no problem.

However, if the tree had not yet grown for 3 years, one would have to wait to the conclusion of 3 years before deriving benefit. [As to how one counts the three years, see SA YD 294:4.]

If the tree has been grafted with other trees, there is also an issue of kilayim, which likewise applies in chutz la’aretz on a rabbinic level. Please let me know if this is the case and I can review the relevant parameters with you.

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