[Avodah] re the beginning of a new Shemitah year.

Ari Kahn adk1010 at gmail.com
Wed Aug 11 00:16:12 PDT 2021

The presentation of the laws of Shemitah was highly misleading. Especially this line "However, the Ramban (Sefer Hazechus ? Gittin 18a) and the Rambam according to the Kessef Mishnah, (Hilchos Shmita Viyovel 4:25) are of the opinion that the Halacha does not follow Rebbi, and the Torah obligations of Shemitah remain in effect even today." 

There are three opinions among the Rishonim regarding Shemitah today:

1. Shemita is a Torah law

2. It is  Rabbinic law. (which is actually the opinion of the Ramban – see his commentary to Gitten 36a, and the discussion by the Ramban’s great great..grandson Rabbi Shlomo ben Rabbi Simeon Duran (Rashbesh siman 258)

3. There is no law of Shemitah today - it is a minhag chasidus (Sefer Haterumot Shaar 45:4) (according to the Rashbesh one can add Bahag, Rav Yehudah Abarziloni, Rav Yehudah ben Yakar, and the Baal Haittur,)

One wouldn’t understand from this citation (from the OU) that the Rambam in multiple places writes explicitly that Shemitah is drabanan, as does the Kesef Mishna (and it is claimed that this particular Kesef Mishna suffers from a printing error (RI Korkos says he saw the manuscript and it states “Drabanan” and the printers made a mistake)

Aside from the evidence from the manuscript - The reason why this is assumed to be an error is that Rambam is clear in multiple places that Shemitah is drabbanan. (And the Kesef Mishna/Beit Yosef writes this in other places)


Rambam Commentary to the Mishna Sheviit 10:3

Mishna Torah Laws of Shemita and Yovel 9:2,3,16

Mishna Torah Laws of Shemita and Yovel 10:8,9

Mishna Torah Laws of Beit Habechira 6:16

Also see Law of Terumot 1:26, and the explanation of Rav Chaim (found in Mishna Torah Laws of Shemita and Yovel 12:16)


The Shulchan Oruch HM 67:1 rules that today Shemitah is Drabbanan – but the custom is that it doesn’t exist at all. Admittedly, this ruling is regarding Shemitat Kesafim, however look at the commentaries, (Especially the S”ma who writes there is no law of shemita regarding agricultural laws today – this is also cited by the Be’er Haetev)

see the discussion in the Beit Yosef. However, the Rama cites that we follow the opinion that there is no Shemitah today, (see the Be’er Hagolah – who cites the same authorities cited above by the Rashbesh)

And for good measure the Rama adds the opinion that there is doubt regarding which year is the sabbatical year – which creates a “safek drabbanan lkulah”.


Citing an opinion attributed to the Ramban – which is countered by the Ramban is unfortunate.

Citing an opinion attributed to the Rambam – which is countered by the Rambam is unfortunate.

Failing to cite the Shulchan Oruch and commentaries properly is unfortunate.

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