Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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27 Kislev 5766 - December 28, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Notice Regarding Kela'ei Hakerem

The publication of a notice by the Center for Halachic Agriculture brought numerous questions. Rabbonim from the Kashrus Lemehadrin organization would like to clarify the matter as follows:

Until recently we encountered almost no incidents that raised concerns regarding kela'ei hakerem, and even if there were incidents, they were very rare. In Arab farming, however, it is relatively common (see responsa by the Maharshdam, 193). Due to the shortage of growing space and manpower the farmer makes use of the area for several types of crops, particularly during the winter when the vineyard is dormant and the land and infrastructures can be used to plant winter vegetables normally cultivated in fields. (When traveling to the gravesites of the Avos in Hevron one can sometimes see this clearly along the way.)

In light of the difficult conditions in agriculture recently, we have identified a trend among certain farmers in the Jewish sector to try to grow field crops in vineyards during the winter months.

The sugyo of kela'ei hakerem is very complex from a halachic standpoint and the Rishonim disagree on many points. There are cases in which all of the crops are prohibited mide'Oraiso—both the grapes and the vegetables—and there are cases in which even if they have not yet reached the stage of growth known as hekdesh (because the posuk that prohibits it reads "pen tikdash), according to some Rishonim the vegetables will be prohibited while the grapes will be permitted.

Recently, over the course of a short period of time, we have received a number of reports on this type of cultivation. In one case an inspector sent by Torah-Based Agriculture reported that while overseeing the arrival of seedlings and vines (bi-annually) in the Jordan Valley he found several vineyards with field crops. An in-depth inquiry revealed several farmers in the area cultivate red and dark green bell peppers in vineyards. (Some farmers grow them inside special hothouses, which makes the prohibition more severe.) We received other reports from the Central Region (the Padia area) of onions growing inside the vineyards.

In light of a succession of reports within a matter of days from mashgichim in the field there are concerns this is becoming a widespread practice and could cause problems regarding the supply of kosher vegetables, which is especially relevant to kashrus organizations that do not dispatch mashgichim to the packaging houses and the growing sites, but receive vegetables at wholesale warehouses (to separate trumos umaaseros) without knowing about their origins.

Although apparently problems only arise in a minority of cases, for the public's sake we have decided to make the situation known; every kashrus organization will act in accordance with the instructions issued by its rabbonim.

In accordance with the horo'oh of Maran HaRav Eliashiv, shlita, we are making every effort, with the help of the mashgichim in the field, to oversee and prevent the sale of vegetables at stores under our supervision.


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