By Rabbi Berach Steinfeld
The Torah gives us a special promise that during Shmitta and Yovel the supply of fruit will be sufficient even though work in the fields may not be done during those years.
The Moshav Zekeinim brings a question from Rabi Yehuda Hachasid that asks, “How was Beis Din able to bring the Omer during Yovel?” During the Shmitta year they brought the Omer from crops that took root during the sixth year. To ensure its protection there were people who were paid to guard the sefichei Shviis (growth that grew on its own) for the Omer. However, during Yovel there were not guards left to watch whatever crops grew. The fields were hefker. So what crops were used for the Omer during Yovel?
Rabi Yehudah Hachasid answers that there was a field designated for this purpose and no one touched it. Therefore, it stands to reason that there were sfichin from Shmitta into Yovel.
Another answer could be said that one may buy crops that did not yet grow one third from a non-Jew. We find in the Gemara in Meseches Rosh Hashana, daf yud gimmel, amud alef that the Torah uses the word “Ktzirchem.” The Omer has to be given from a crop that belongs to a Jew; nevertheless, if the crop grew under the Jew’s ownership up to one third, it is considered that it belongs to a Jew. The question one may ask is, “How would a non-Jew own property in Eretz Yisroel?” There is a prohibition for a Jew to sell property in Eretz Yisroel to a non-Jew.
Asking a non-Jew to plant crops for the Omer during Shmitta would be forbidden MiDeRabbonon since it is well know that “amira Le’Akum is a Shvus.” The Baal Ha’Itor in the Rema, siman resh ayin vov, seif bais says that bemakom Mitzva even an amira Le’Akum in relation to an issur DeOraysa would be permitted. In the case of Shmitta one should be able to tell a non-Jew to plant the field for the purpose of the Omer. This would only apply if we hold that the issur of Shmitta lies on the person himself; that a Jew is not allowed to work on his fields. However, if we hold that the issur of Shmitta is on the field itself and not the person, then it would be forbidden to tell a non-Jew to plant the field.
May we be zocheh to have deal with this question in our days.