Dear Rabbi Simon,
I would like to plant a fruit tree (or maybe more than one) in my garden (good for the environment, good for the soul). WRT consuming the fruit, I noticed in last week’s Torah reading the prohibition of orlah (Lev. 19:23), ie fruit produced in the first 3 years of a tree’s growth, which I understand applies outside of the Land of Israel as well. Can you explain exactly how I count these 3 years?
Thank you for your springtime question.
Regardless of whether one planted a seed, a branch from a tree, or grafted a branch onto an existing tree, one must wait until after Tu B’Shevat of the fourth year to eat new blossoming fruit. Even if one uprooted an entire tree and then replanted it, s/he must wait the full amount of time before partaking of the fruit (Shulchan Aruch YD 294:16). However, if the tree was uprooted with enough soil so that it could have survived even if it were not replanted, one does not restart counting the years of orlah (YD 294:19).
But note that, if a tree was uprooted with its own dirt and then placed in a pot without holes (atzitz she’eino nakuv), it is a matter of dispute whether one would have to restart the orlah count (Derech Emunah, Neta Revai 10:65). The rule is that all doubts regarding orlah outside of Israel are permitted. Therefore, outside of Israel, if a tree wrapped in a ball of original dirt was placed on a car or lorry (which have the same status as atzitz she’eino nakuv), one would not need to restart the counting of orlah.
Confused? Yes, these laws are actually quite complex. For more info visit http://rabbikaganoff.com/could-the-fruit-on-my-tree-be-orlah/. Happy husbandry!
Rabbi Rashi Simon