Shemittah and Flowers

July 12, 2022 | by Rabbi Pinchas Waldman

Is there an issue with buying or picking flowers on the Shemittah year here in Israel?

The Aish Rabbi Replies

It depends on a few factors. If you have flowers in your own garden or flowerpot, you can pick them to decorate your house, but they should be cut in an irregular manner. (Note that we may not garden on Shemittah (in Israel alone), but plants which were planted before Shemittah may be protected from damage – such as by watering them.)

In terms of buying flowers, they may be purchased from a seller who has reliable certification that the flowers were not tended in forbidden ways on Shemittah. (Many permit flowers grown in enclosed hothouses within raised flowerpots.)

Flowers which have no fragrance have no inherent sanctity on Shemittah. Thus, picked flowers which became dried out can be thrown out as regular on Shemittah. Flowers which do have a fragrance do have sanctity according to some opinions. This means that after they dry out, they must be left in a “Shemittah garbage” – separate from your regular garbage – until they begin to rot, at which point they can be discarded as regular. Also, such flowers should not be purchased as regular (and if they would, the money used in the sale would become sacred). Only if there are special sales in which compensation is given for the labor rather the product itself could they be purchased – as Shemittah fruit is sold in Israel.

(Sources: Shvitat HaAretz, Tipul B'Atzitz 44; Ma’amar Mordechai (R’ Mordechai Tzemach), Shevi’it 6; Dinei Shvi’it 12; Chazon Ish, Shevi’it 14:9.)

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