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The Melachah Of Kotzer

The Daily Halacha Moment - The Melachah Of Kotzer 🌿

״כל השונה הלכות בכל יום - מובטח לו שהוא בן העולם הבא״ (נידה עג ע״א, מגילה כח:)

“Anyone who studies Halachot every day is guaranteed that he is destined for the world-to-come” (Megilla 28b, Niddah 73a)


What is the Melachah of Kotzer?


Kotzer (harvesting) was needed in the Mishkan for either the herbs used to make dye for the tapestries of the Mishkan or wheat for the making of the Lechem Hapanim.

The melachah of Kotzer is defined as the uprooting or severing of any living plant from its source of growth.[1] This applies to edible and non-edible plants.[2]

The amount that one must harvest to be obligated in a Chatat offering for violating the melachah of Kotzer depends on the purpose of harvesting. If one is harvesting for consumption, he must harvest a gerogeret’s worth (which is about 18 grams) to be obligated. If one is harvesting for an animal, then the amount is however much would fit in the mouth of a baby goat. If one is harvesting for fire-wood, then one must harvest enough that is needed to cook a third of an egg. Any harvesting that is less than this amount is only rabbinically forbidden.[3]

Almost any type of plant life is subject to Kotzer. Therefore, it is prohibited to scrape away moss from a surface on Shabbat.[4] Similarly, detaching mushrooms from the ground is also considered Kotzer, even though they are not necessarily defined as a plant.[5]

It is prohibited to detach a fruit or vegetable that is fully ripened, even though it no longer draws nutrients from the tree. [6]

Even a plant that has dried out but is still attached to the ground, such as hay, is still rabbinically prohibited to be cut. However, if the stalk of a plant is still moist, but the fruit is dry, it is biblically prohibited. [7]


[1]. Talmud Bavli, Shabbat, 107b; Rambam 8:3.

[2]. See Shulchan Aruch 336:3 and 12.

[3]. Rambam 8:5; Chazon Ovadia, Shabbat, vol. 4, p. 66; Halichot Olam, vol. 4, p. 232.

[4]. Shulchan Aruch 336:5; Mishnah Berurah 336:34.

[5]. See Chayeh Adam 12:1. See also Yabia Omer, vol. 8, 23:22.

[6]. Shulchan Aruch 336:12 states that even if the fruit has dried out but the stalk leading to the fruit has not dried out, nor has the tree dried out, it is considered the biblical melachah of Kotzer.

[7]. Shulchan Aruch 336:12; Mishnah Berurah 336:57; Chazon Ovadia, Shabbat, vol. 4, p. 72.

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