Within the last few days local stores have suddenly started selling red, yellow and orange
peppers imported from Israel. These are found in regular and organic sections. The pictures
below were taken by me in Fairway, but I know that they are also on sale in West Side Market
(thanks Menachem Fruchter) and many other supermarkets and stores. One must treat them
as being safeik tevel, and separate Terumah, Maaser, terumas Maaser and Maaser Ani.
According to the Chazon Ish one may recite a summary of the full declaration, one must set
aside a coin for the pidyon of maaser, dampen and touch the produce, remove a bit more
than a 1/100th of the produce and say “I wish to separate Teruma and all Maasros according
to the formula approved by the chazon Ish.” Wrap the removed section and discard it, and
put the coin away in a safe place.
Others say one must recite the full text which is printed in many Siddurim.
It is important to note that this year 5778 is the 3rd year of the Shemita cycle and therefore
a “maaser Ani” year, consequently we do not separate maaser shaini (and do not redeem
the maaser shaini), if this was definitely “tevel” one would have to give the separated produce
to a poor person in the Holy Land or give the value of the Maaser Ani to the poor or to a
gabbai tzedaka to distribute, since our exported produce is all only possibly obligated in
Maaser Ani we can follow the principal of המוציא מחבירו עליו הראיי׳ and wait for a poor person
to stake a claim.
Technology has streamlined this matter: One can use a credit card to make an online
membership of a Maaser Ani cooperative, give the amount you assume you will need to
replace your maaser ani for the whole year to the gabbaim and that will automatically give
your maaser ani equivalent out to the poor in Israel. This is available both from Machon
Hatorah VeHaaretz which offers online memberships to its Bais HaOtsar
will give you a full English report on this issue, provided by Rabbi Yosef Efrati’s Bais Hamedrash Lehalacha BeHistyashvut.
This only applies to vegetables for which the year begins at Rosh Hashana. The new year
for fruits begins on the 15th of Shvat, therefore any oranges and persimmons or dates you
buy now are still considered to be from the 2nd year of the cycle and require Maaser Shaini
If you buy from a display with some peppers labeled from Israel and some labeled as coming
from Mexico, and others with no label at all. One should do Hasfroshas terumos Umaasros
on the unlabelled ones but do each of them separately.