Shabbat Parashat Beshalah | 5765
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - The Halachic Significance of Tu B’shevat - Part II - Based on Chavot Binyamin I, pg. 63-5
[We saw last time that it is agreed that Tu B’shevat has significance in determining the orlah status of fruit. Regarding fruit during Shemitta, the Rambam is of the opinion that they are governed by the Rosh Hashana of Tishrei, with an etrog being the lone exception. Tosafot, though, said that there is a broad derivation of the laws of Shemitta from those of orlah, by virtue of which Tu B’shevat is the cut-off date for fruit in regard to Shemitta, as well.]
It seems that the aforementioned machloket between the Rambam and Tosafot is related to another machloket among the Rishonim. We saw that fruit that grow during the fourth year of a tree’s existence, but before Tu B’shevat of that year, are considered to belong to the third year. The question is whether that status is across the board or not. Rashi says that this applies only to those trees that have not completed a full three years but are deemed to belong to the fourth year because they “completed” their first year when they were planted soon before the end of the calendar year. But the fruit of trees which completed three full years are treated as r’vai (fruit of the fourth year, which need to be eaten in Yerushalayim or redeemed) even if they budded before Tu B’shevat of the fourth year. The Rambam, cited in Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 294:5, concurs. The Ran rules against this, saying that the requirement of budding after Tu B’shevat of the fourth year is absolute. One can prove that Tosafot and the Rach agree with the opinion of the Ran.
Tosafot and the Rambam are consistent in their positions. Tosafot posits that any fruit except etrog (see last week’s article) that buds before Tu B’shevat is considered to have grown based on the previous year’s rain and relates totally to that year in regard to Shemitta, as well as orlah. He also feels that this applies even to fruit from trees that finished a full three years since planting, as the fruit is considered as if it grew before Tishrei. On the other hand, according to Rashi and the Rambam, the significance of Tu B’shevat is much more limited. All fruit is considered to enter a new year in the beginning of Tishrei. Those that did not yet complete a full third year need Tu B’shevat to pass to usher in a new year regarding orlah, whereas those that are already fully in their fourth year do not. Regarding Shemitta, after Tishrei enters, the fruit are considered as belonging to the new year of Shemitta.
We should point out that even according to Tosafot that Tu B’shevat has a more far-reaching significance, this is only in regard to the fruit of a tree, which are profoundly impacted by the rain of the previous year. However, as far as the rest of the tree is concerned, Tishrei determines the entire halachic status. Therefore, the gemara (Sukka 39-40) discusses the Shemitta status of branches that were cut in the beginning of the calendar year of Shemitta.
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