Globes: Jerusalem group organizes overseas observance of shmitta

by / Thursday, 09 August 2007 / Published in In the media
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The project allows Jews living outside of Israel, and those in Israel who do not own land, to participate in the seventh year service.

Globes’ correspondent 9 Aug 07

Shomrei Shvi’it, a Jerusalem-based group dedicated to reinvigorating the observance of Jewish agricultural laws, has launched a new program that will give many Jews the chance to observe a number of commandments as never before. The program is geared to be simple, powerful and inexpensive.
The innovative new project will allow Jews in Israel, and throughout the Diaspora, to properly fulfill the Torah commandment known as “shmitta,” whereby agricultural land in Israel must lie fallow every seventh (Sabbatical) year. Shomrei Shvi’it facilitates the purchase of small tracts of agricultural land in Israel that will lay completely fallow for the entire shmitta year, commencing on Rosh Hashana September 13, 2007.

The plots are located on a large tract of land near Ra’anana. Each plot is currently being cultivated and measures “dalet amot,” or four square cubits, approximately 53 square inches. In accordance with Torah law, all work on this land will cease before Rosh Hashana. The project has the blessing of leading rabbis and Torah scholars, many of whom have already purchased tracts.

Simcha Margaliot, the project’s director commented, “We have created an important, easy-to-use, and powerful mechanism. For the first time for many people, shmitta will no longer be a theoretical commandment for discussion and learning, but will become actual and practical.”

Shomrei Shvi’it presents a fundamental change in attitude towards the shmitta year. At present, the observant Jewish world is occupied with finding ways to refrain from disobeying the shmitta commandments while allowing for regular consumption of agricultural produce during the upcoming year. Rabbis, farmers, and millions of kosher consumers are studying methods to avoid transgressing the many laws of shmitta. Shomrei Shvi’it contends that people are missing out on the opportunity to actually fulfill the commandment (mitzvah) of letting the land lie fallow, one of the few in the Torah where the reward, divine blessing, is specifically mentioned. The new project steps in and fills this void.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news – – on August 9, 2007

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