Sima from Elad asks:
I recently bought a locally produced natural soap. I
noticed that the ingredients include herbs and fruit extracts. These could
well be from the sh’mittah year. May I use the soap?
It is forbidden to convert sh’mittah produce which is fit for
human or animal consumption into an inedible form. This is considered a form of
destruction (Tosefta Shvi’is 6:5 and 8; see also Rambam’s commentary to the
mishna, Terumos 11:1). However, the finished product may be used. The Chazon Ish
(Demai 15:1) writes that if terumah oil was used in the manufacture of soap it
still retains its terumah status. Even though it can no longer be eaten, it can
still be enjoyed by being anointed on the body. We can infer from this ruling
that washing with soap is equivalent to anointing. If this is true for terumah
oil, the same should apply to sh’mittah oil. On the other hand, if washing is
not equal to anointing, we now have a product which is only fit for washing.
Since it is no longer possible to derive benefit from the sh’mittah ingredients
in the usual manner, they are deemed to have lost their sh’mittah status. There
is then no restriction on their use. Whichever way you look at it, the sh’mittah
soap may be used (see Mishptei Eretz, Chapter 24, Note 15).