Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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3 Adar I 5763 - February 5, 2003 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Hundreds of Agronomists and Kashrus Professionals Drawn to Seminar in Jerusalem
by Yated Ne'eman Staff

An impressive one-day seminar sponsored by the Jerusalem Rabbinate's Department for Land of Israel Mitzvos and the Center for Torah-Based Agriculture drew hundreds of agronomists and kashrus professionals to Jerusalem just after Tu BeShvat.

The participants, many of whom serve as mashgichim in packinghouses, wholesale centers, factories, outdoor markets and stores, heard lectures and briefings by rabbonim, halochoh experts and inspectors on practical halachic matters and kashrus policy guidelines.

Updates were provided on new arrangements and comprehensive activities designed to prevent the sale of tevel and orloh as part of work by the Jerusalem Rabbinate's Department for Land of Israel Mitzvos, in cooperation with the Center for Torah-Based Agriculture, to expand the observance of Land of Israel mitzvos. For years the former has been considered the leader in the field of fruit and vegetable kashrus across the country, both for the general and chareidi public.

HaRav Yosef Efrati, who serves as the rov and head of the Department, spoke of the importance Chazal attributed to Tu BeShevat and said the occasion called for introspection on Land of Israel mitzvos. He then proceeded to survey developments toward tightened control over terumos vemaaseros and orloh, placing them at the top of the priority list since these prohibitions are imposed on the buyer, and therefore tightening control over problems of chilul Shabbos would only be implemented in the second phase.

One improvement has been to implement the inspection and control apparatus at the packing and distribution stage in order to save thousands of Jews who purchase produce around the country from transgressing tevel prohibitions. Overseeing produce in the packinghouses while it is still marked according to where it was grown allows mashgichim to prevent mixtures of produce having different halachic statuses (e.g. produce grown by goyim or in areas that may be outside Eretz Yisroel), and to tithe produce from every farmer, field or orchard separately. This practice also helps considerably in preventing the sale of orloh, fruits and vegetable acquired through chilul Shabbos and apples coated with non-kosher substances.

Progress was also reported in the area of nursery oversight in order to prevent the sale of fruit borne by young trees. The halachic solution is to begin counting the age of trees at the nursery, since they are later brought to orchards and transplanted (from unsealed pots) along with their potting soil. Throughout the shiur HaRav Efrati stressed that this solution is only for standard kashrus, to save the masses from orloh. Today over one million potted trees around the country are under supervision.

HaRav Efrati also raised a number of halachic points, noting for example that terumos vemaaseros must be separated from citrus fruits according to the time of picking (rather than chanitoh) and a doubt remains whether the correct time is before Tu BeShevat or afterwards. Because of this doubt the ruling is to clear packinghouse refrigerators of citrus fruit before Tu BeShevat and to tithe according to the outgoing year.

Department Director Rav Shlomo Shmulevitz cited statements by Chazal on the importance of keeping Land of Israel mitzvos in accordance with all relevant halochos, saying that only through them do we have the power to sanctify the Land with due holiness. He also spoke about the proper nusach to be recited when separating terumos vemaaseros and reemphasized strict adherence to matters of kashrus, such as proper tithing times and keeping proper records.


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