Fresh Produce from Israel

Question: What is the correct Halachic procedure to follow before eating Israeli-grown produce, e.g. Pomegranates, Jaffa Oranges, Grapes etc which are available in South Africa?

Answer: We are required by Rabbinic decree to separate terumot and ma’asrot (tithes) from all Israeli-grown produce. This applies both inside and outside of Israel and therefore applies to fresh produce such as pomegranates, grapes and Jaffa Oranges etc sold in South Africa. Unless specified otherwise, these products are considered safek tevel, i.e. we are unsure whether or not terumot and ma’asrot were separated from it, and we therefore have to do so ourselves before we are allowed to eat from it.

There are a number of methods whereby this may be achieved. The following method is recommended by the Beth Din as an interim measure: (Please note that these laws are varied and complicated, and we list here only a brief summary of the steps required to fulfill this obligation).

1 Place all of the fruits and vegetables that need to be tithed in one place.
2 Cut or break off a little more than 1% of each type of fruit or vegetable.
3 Designate a R5 coin for the purpose of “second tithe redemption” and keep in a secure place.
4 Recite the “hafrashat terumot u’maasrot” text, which can be found in many siddurim (Artscroll weekday siddur page 226). This must be recited in a language which you understand. Do not recite the b’racha, unless you are absolutely sure that no teruma and ma’aser was ever taken from this food.
5 If you do not have the text handy, you can declare the following: “The terumot and ma’asrot being separated here should be valid according to the text which is written in the siddur or sefer which is elsewhere and the second tithe redeemed by the designated coin which I have set aside”
6 Wrap up the separated produce and discard.
7 The remaining fruit and vegetables are now permitted to be eaten.