Produce of Israel

Grains, fruits and vegetables (and their extracts) that grow in the Halachic boundaries of Eretz Yisrael are subject to many extra Kashrut laws due to the Kedusha (holiness) of the land.

These include: 

  • the requirement to separate Terumah (the Priestly tithe) and the various forms of Maaser (tithes for the Levites, the poor, and the portion that was to be eaten in Jerusalem in Temple times)
  • Shmita (produce of the Sabbatical year)
  • a stricter form of Orla (produce of a tree within its 1st 3 years).

    How to separate Terumah and the various forms of Maaser

    1. Place all of the food that needs to be tithed in one place.
    2. Put a bit more than 1% of the food aside. Then say this declaration:
      “Whatever [of the portion set aside] is more than one percent of everything here, is hereby declared to be the Priestly tithe and is the northerly portion.
      “The one percent remaining here, together with nine equal portions at the upper side of this produce, is declared to be the first [Levite] tithe.
      “The one out of a hundred that I have made the first tithe is hereby declared to be the Trumah portion of the tithe.
      “Nine more equal portions at the lower side of the produce are declared to be the second tithe, but if this produce must have the tithe of the poor separated from it, let [the lower nine portions] be the tithe of the poor.
      “This second tithe, and its extra fifth, is hereby redeemed by one Prutah out of the coin that the director of “The Fund for the Redemption of Maaser Sheni” has designated for the Johannesburg Beth Din, for the purpose of such redemption.” 
    3. If you have difficulty reciting the above text, you can say this abbreviated version:
      “I hereby set aside all the Trumot and Maasrot and redeem all Maaser Sheni according to the halachah, as is written in the text for members of “The Fund for the Redemption of Maaser Sheni” per the Johannesburg Beth Din.”
    4. Securely wrap up the separated produce and discard.
    5. The remaining food is now permitted to be eaten.

    Processed foods from Israel with a reliable Hechsher will also certify that all these Halachic issues have been taken care of.

    N.B. “Israeli” tomatoes are usually locally grown, as are “English” cucumbers. Check the label.

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