Land Owned by the Israeli Lands Authority and Leased Land

by / Wednesday, 16 July 2014 / Published in Shmita Articles
for-rent- shmita

We discovered several interesting points regarding the type of land upon which one may fulfill the mitzva of shmita.

Rented and leased land: The poskim prove that he who rents a field on Erev Shvi’it does not fulfill the mitzva- rather, the landowner who is renting out the field to him is the one who fulfills the mitzva. The Minchas Chinuch (mitzva 112) wrote that he who rents out his field is commanded with the ‘mitzvat aseh’ of not allowing his tenant to work the field. He learned this from the Gemara in Avoda Zara (16). The achronim already explicitly pointed this out in Tosefos Rabeinu Elchanan in Avodah Zara (16). In Tosefos RI”D there it’s like the understanding of the Minchas Chinuch that the ‘mitzvat aseh’ of letting the land lie fallow applies to the landowner.

The outcome of their words is that tenants do not fulfill the mitzva of shmita. A ‘nafka mina l’halacha’ is also to be learned here: many homes and fields in Israel today are not permanently owned by their owners- rather, they are being leased from the Israeli Lands Authority (“Tabu”). This means that if someone leases a home and wishes to perform the mitzva on his private garden- he will in fact not be mekayem the mitzva!