Local Authorities Tell Farmers: ‘Half a Shemittah Is Enough, Get Back to Work!’


Last Sunday, May 8, Maran the Rosh HaYeshivah received members of Keren Hashviis as well as representatives of the thousands of Keren Hasheviis farmers from across the country, the giborei ko’ach who are observing shemittah with mesirus nefesh despite incurring huge losses and against all temptations to resume farming.

Rabbi Binyamin Cohen, Keren HaSheviis CEO, reported to Maran the Rosh HaYeshivah that not only has the Israeli government failed to provide financial support for shemittah-observant farmers, but they have been stepping up their efforts to convince farmers to cease their shemittah-observance. “We’re hearing from farmers that local council members are pressing them to take advantage of the rainy winter we were blessed with, and to start planting summer crops. ‘Half a shemittah is enough,’ they say. ‘Next time around you can observe the entire shemittah’.

“We’re doing our utmost to strengthen the farmers,” Rabbi Cohen continued. “The support we’ve received from world Jewry thus far certainly obligates them, but we can’t abandon them now. It we don’t maintain our commitment, some farmers may not stand up to the test, as unfortunately, we’ve already seen, R”l.”

In light of the farmers’ distress, Maran the Rosh HaYeshivah ordered the establishment of a special emergency fund. In an unusual missive, he issued a rallying cry to the public to stand by the farmers, specifically now — at the half-point of the shemittah year — to support and strengthen those who are upholding the holiness of the land.

“Shemittah-observance is currently in peril. A real danger exists that the farmers will, chas veshalom, lack the wherewithal to continue observing the mitzvah of shemittah,” he wrote.

Maran Rosh HaYeshivah expressed himself unequivocally, that “whoever donates to Keren HaSheviis is a partner in Kevod Shamayim and increases Kevod Shamayim!”

In an outpouring of unbridled support for the special fund,  Maran the Rosh HaYeshivah added, “Certainly it is a great merit for our fellow Yidden all over the world to participate and assist to the best of their ability. As for those who have already contributed to the shemittah campaign, they should give again.”

At the end of the visit, the farmers’ representatives approached Maran the Rosh HaYeshivah one by one for a personal brachah and words of chizuk to withstand the challenges. All present left with a sense of inspiration in light of the extraordinary effort Maran Rosh HaYeshivah invested in strengthening all who are involved with shemittah-observance, particularly the farmers, who are on the “front lines” of the battle to maintain the holiness of Eretz Yisrael.

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