Chanoch from Ramat Shlomo asks:
path running across my garden is disintegrating. The stones are loose and I am
concerned that it is unsafe to walk on the path. Is there any way I can lay a
new path in the sh’mittah year?
agricultural work is forbidden during the sh’mittah
year. It is permitted to dig up the ground and lay a new path or street, etc. as
long as it is clear to the onlooker that what is happening is not agricultural
work. Therefore, if one marks out the course of the path with string or stacks
the building materials next to the site of the path, there is no problem in
building a new path. Indeed, it would even be permitted to lay a new path if
none had previously existed at that location if the above rules are fulfilled.
The fact that one is digging up the ground would not matter since it is clear to
all that the purpose of digging is not for planting, etc. Similarly, removing
loose stones from the proposed building site, which is often done to prepare the
ground for sowing or planting, is also permitted for the above reasons. If the
present state of the path presents a danger to people, it is a duty to repair or