Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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30 Sivan 5768 - July 3, 2008 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Wide Distribution of Otzar Beis Din Produce

By Yechiel Sever

In recent weeks the otzar beis din headed by HaRav Nissim Karelitz and the otzar beis din headed by HaRav Yosef Efrati have begun distributing a wide range of summer fruits with kedushas shevi'is. Payment is not made for the fruits themselves, but for expenses that the beis din incurred in growing the fruits and distributing them (e.g. transport, refrigeration, distribution points, etc.). As a result prices may remain uniform until the end of the season; if the beis din finds most of the costs have already been covered prices will be lowered.

Last week, thanks to the brochoh that has graced orchards run by the Kashrus Lemehadrin otzar beis din, large amounts of apricots were given out at no cost because the outlays for the entire apricot crop had already been covered.

According to Maran HaRav Eliashiv shlita, under no condition may the beis din charge more than standard market prices. Since the primary aim of the otzar beis din is to provide fruits to the public, if the prices are higher than regular market prices the public can claim "letikunei shadartich velo le'ivusi."

Otzar beis din work got started months before the Shmittah year even began. At various fields and orchards the otzar beis din hired the owner to serve as its shaliach by overseeing the cultivation of the crops. This arrangement is based on a directive by the Chazon Ish zt"l permitting the otzar beis din to select the owner himself as its shaliach, noting that this may be the best setup since the farmer is the person best acquainted with his orchard and its needs.

The farmer is paid for the work he does both before and during the Shmittah year, carefully following the beis din's instructions to avoid any concerns the land is worked in a prohibited manner.

According to Maran HaRav Eliashiv shlita, distribution points can be set within stores since the task of the otzar beis din is to ensure the produce reaches the public in the most convenient way possible, but there must be a clear indication the produce is being made available through the otzar beis din and has kedushas shevi'is and is not part of the regular merchandise.

Where possible the beis din tries to provide the fruits without weighing them in order to depart from the regular manner of commerce, but as the Chazon Ish wrote that in situations where this is not an option the otzar beis din may weigh the produce.

Otzar beis din produce must be used in the standard manner. If a given fruit or vegetable is normally eaten raw it cannot be cooked, etc., and any leftovers that are suitable for human consumption or as feed for animals or fowl should be placed in a special bin until rotten.

After distributing apricots for free, Kashrus Lemehadrin printed notices saying that since the time for dispossessing the fruit may have already arrived (onas habi'ur misofek) their advice is to have intention not to take possession of the apricots or to render them hefker on a daily basis and then eat them.


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