From the Rav’s Desk: Removing damaging weeds from a potted plant during Shemita

  1. Question: [Monday 4th Adar 2, 5782]

I live in Eretz Yisrael and have a potted plant on my windowsill which is growing a type of wild flower that is very damaging to the plant. May I remove it?



Yes, you may. It is best to kill the weed through using a weed killing spray, although if this is difficult to achieve you may pluck it out with your hands.

Explanation: The removal of weeds is included within the Melacha of Nekush which is Rabbinically forbidden to be done during Shemita due to it being a Tolda of planting which is forbidden during Shemita. Nonetheless, since it is only rabbinically forbidden, it may be done if it is damaging current plants. This allowance is known as Lekiyumei. This especially applies by a potted plant which is itself under debate as to its status.

Sources: See regarding the prohibition of Nikush: Rambam Shemita Veyoval 1:5; Hagahos Maimanis Hilchos Yom Tov 8 Tes; Shut Hamabit 1:250; Toras HaShemita 4:15; Halichos Hashevi’is 7:9;  See regarding doing Rabbinical Melachas for the sake of removing damage from the plant: Rambam 1:8 regarding watering the land; Chazon Ish 21:17; Halichos Hashevi’is 2:8-9

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