Halakhot of Otzar Bet Din Wine

otzar bd wine

  • Fruits that began to grow on trees during the Shemita year may have kedushat shvi’it.  This includes grapes.  Therefore, Israeli wines of the 2015 vintage may have kedushat shvi’it.
  • Wine marked “Otzar Bet Din” has kedushat shvi’it and must be treated accordingly.  This means:
    • The wine should not be intentionally wasted, even for “ritual” purposes. Therefore, if such wine is used for Havdallah, the customs of pouring out a bit of wine and extinguishing the candle in it, or placing drops of wine in one’s pockets, etc. should not be observed.  Similarly, if this wine is used at the Passover Seder, the custom of spilling out drops of wine while reciting the Ten Plagues should also not be observed.
    • It is forbidden to cook wine with kedushat shvi’it, since this is not the ordinary way of using it.  One should note, therefore, that wine marked Otzar Bet Din is not mevushal.
  • In principle, produce of the Shemita year should not be removed from the land of Israel.  Therefore, one who is traveling abroad should not take Otzar Bet Din wine with him.
  • In spite of the above, some Batei Din do allow the export of wine made from grapes that were grown specifically for this purpose, and therefore one may find bottles of Otzar Bet Din wine, with proper kosher supervision, in other countries.  If one obtains such a bottle of wine abroad, it may be used and should be treated with kedushat shvi’it.  If the wine is being sold abroad in a store that has not been appointed as a representative of the Bet Din, it is preferable not to pay for it with cash, so that there is no concern of the coins obtaining kedushat shvi’it.
  • The halakha of Biur applies to wine.  This halakha states that once a particular crop is no longer available in the field, one must remove it from his personal possession as well.  The date for Biur of wine is Erev Pesach (the day before Passover; the 14th of Nissan).  Therefore, anyone who is in possession of bottles of Otzar Bet Din wine on Erev Pesach 5766 must declare, in the presence of three people, that he renounces ownership over the wine.  It is advisable to also remove the bottles from his home and place them in a public area.  After doing so, he may then reclaim them and bring them back into the house and use them at any future date.