Tu BiShevat Bug Checking Guide

The laws of kashrut teach us which foods we may eat and which foods are forbidden. The Jewish people are commanded not to eat disgusting things.

In Vayikra / Leviticus we read:

Leviticus Chapter 11

20 Any flying insect that walks on four, is an abomination for you.

Rashi comments:
20 Any flying insect: These are the delicate and small creatures that crawl on the ground, like flies, hornets, mosquitoes, and locusts.

A few verses later we read:

Leviticus Chapter 11

41 And any creeping creature that creeps on the ground is an abomination; it shall not be eaten.
42 Any [creature] that goes on its belly, and any [creature] that walks on four [legs] to any [creature] that has many legs, among all creeping creatures that creep on the ground, you shall not eat, for they are an abomination.
43 You shall not make yourselves abominable with any creeping creature that creeps, and you shall not defile yourselves with them, that you should become unclean through them.
44 For I am the Lord your God, and you shall sanctify yourselves and be holy, because I am holy, and you shall not defile yourselves through any creeping creature that crawls on the ground.

There are many details in these laws and it is not my purpose to go into them deeply.

The basic concept is that we should not eat insects even if they have great nutritional value.

Many people celebrate Tu Bishevat by eating fresh and dried fruits. That makes it is a good time to review how to check fruits to detect lurking insects.

The expert on checking fruits and vegetables for bugs is Rabbi Moshe Vaye.

Bedikas HaMazon by Rabbi Vaye

He’s written a series of books on the subject in Hebrew. There is also an English version available.

He also produces a free guide for Tu Bishevat.

Tu Bishevat apricots should check for bugs

In the Tu Bishevat guide he divides fruits into 3 categories:

  • Clean Fruit – no checking required
  • Sometimes Infested Fruit – should be checked
  • Often Infested Fruit – must be checked

He lists over 25 fruits Clean Fruits that don’t need checking. Some examples of them are apples, canned apricots, avocados, bananas, and mangos.

Similarly, in the Sometimes Infested group he lists over 25 fruits. With each fruit he explains the possible infestation and how to check for it.

This category includes popular fruits and nuts such as almonds, dates, grapes, olives, peaches, and sunflower seeds.

Fortunately, the Often Infested category is short. Here are all the fruits he includes:

  • carob
  • figs, fresh and dried
  • goji berries
  • mulberries
  • quince grown in Israel
  • raisins
  • raspberries
  • strawberries

Again, with each fruit he explains the likely infestation and how to check for it.

Seven Species Infested

All of the fruits included in the 7 species that the Land of Israel is praised for are included in these lists as needing to be checked.

Here they are along with the category they fall into:

  • dates, dried and frozen – sometime infested
  • figs – often infested
  • grapes – sometimes infested
  • olives – sometimes infested
  • pomegranate – sometimes infested
  • raisins – often infested

Download the Guide

Rabbi Vaye produces this guide and distributes it for free. You can download your copy as a PDF by clicking here.

Related Articles

Here are other articles found on Thinking Torah about Tu Bishevat.

Seven Species in the Bible

The Seven Species and Tu Bishevat

Tu Bishevat Word Search