Avi from New York asks:
My wife is crazy about melons. Our local fruit store had a
special offer on "Spanish" honeydew melons, which is her favourite. I
bought a large quantity of this luscious fruit as a treat for our wedding
anniversary. When I got home, I noticed that the label on each and every melon
said, "Made in Israel" and it’s the sh’mittah
year! I think I can cope with my wife’s disappointment, but what should I do
with all these melons?
Avi, all is not lost! Melons from Israel have the status of
vegetables and thus could be subject to the prohibition of s’fichin
if they were grown on Jewish-owned land within the halachic
borders of Eretz Yisroel.
They may then not be eaten and must be left to spoil. (It was also forbidden to
export them from Eretz Yisroel).
However, Israeli melons could also come from other sources. If they were grown
on land owned by non-Jews, they do have kedushas
shvi’is according to some opinions (and should not have been
exported), but may certainly be eaten according to all opinions. Another
possibility is that they were grown by Jews in the Southern Aravah area (south
of the 30th parallel). In that case, they would not have kedushas
shvi’is at all, since this area is considered to be outside the
halachic boundaries of Eretz Yisroel.
Go back to the fruit store and try to find out where the melons really come
from. In any event, you should rebuke the storeowner for his deception!