This is the sabbatical year regarding working the land in the Land of Israel as commanded in the Bible (Leviticus 25:1). As Jews have resettled the Land of Israel and are again working the land, we are able to perform some mitzvot (commandments) that can only be performed inside the Land of Israel.
G-d commanded that you may work the land for six years and in the seventh year let it rest. This is also called shmita (literally, release) to show that we do not own the land, but that it belongs to G-d.
For a farmer not to work the land for a whole year and not have an income can create financial hardship. There are farmers who follow this. The Rabbis have ruled (starting more than 100 years ago) allowing farmers to continue growing – through an exemption (heter michira) – on the land during shmita.
Another option for farmers is not to grow in the ground under conditions established by Rabbinical authorities. Benjamin Rosenberg, who as made Aliyah, grows organic produce on Moshav Tirosh, and with the help of his customers, he has set up hot houses with ground covering (required by chalacha – Jewish law). All the vegetables are grown in containers to ensure that there is no contact with the ground.
His customers have made this project possible – many of them contributing toward the expense of setting up this project. But it has turned out to be a much greater expense than originally estimated and is trying to raise the funds to cover the difference.
You are invited to be a part of helping to keep this important mitzvah. Please visit: jewcer.com/project/keeping-shmita. There you will be able to see a very heartfelt video of living in Israel, working the land and keeping shmita.
By: Ben Rosenberg