Another cease-fire between Gaza and Israel ended this morning when Gaza launched a barrage of rockets at Israel's civilians less than a minute after the cease-fire ended. Now, Jews in portions of southern Israel are told not to travel farther than a 15-second run to a bomb shelter ("Residents of Eshkol instructed to remain within 15 seconds of protected spaces", YNET News, August 8, 2014).
Once again, Jews in Israel are at risk. Once again, we think of the miracles our G-d has used to protect us. Indeed, some say we live in an era of open miracles. They say that if we open our eyes, we will see Divine Providence.
Here is yet another ‘miracle’ story from this current Gaza-Israel war. A reader sent it to me. It’s from a blog called, Jewishmom.com. The essay is entitled, “The Matzah Miracle that Saved the Residents of Kibbutz Sufa”. It was posted on July 30, 2014.
But first, some background information. Beginning a few weeks from now, Israel will begin a year-long celebration of Shemitta. Shemitta is a Biblically-commanded resting of the land. It derives from the name, Shabbat, to rest. The Jewish Bible tells us that, just as man is to rest every seventh day, the agricultural land of Israel is to rest every seventh year.
If we rest the land in the seventh year, two things happen. Number one, there will be no harvest during year seven to provide food for the following year. Number two, if Israel is to eat for those two years, the harvest of year six in the Shemitta cycle must provide enough food for both of those years. The harvest in year six, in other words, must be double the normal harvest.
There are a lot more details about Shemitta. But for our purposes here, the information above is sufficient to understand the story you are about to read.
One more point: Passover (Pesach). Jews eat matzah (unleavened bread) on Passover (Pesach). Because Pesach comes in the Spring, there is, in Israel, no January-February wheat harvest available to provide the flour needed to make matzah. The wheat for a Pesach in March or April must be harvested in, app, July-August of the year before, then set aside to be stored for Pesach.
It has been this way whenever Jews celebrate Pesach—for thousands of years.
This story is about the harvest requirements for Shemitta, the need to harvest ‘Passover’ wheat in the previous July-August, and the Gaza war.
I have done some light editing.
Three weeks ago, a group of religious Jews came from Bnei Brak to the non-religious kibbutz, Sufa—near the border with Gaza—to harvest wheat for Pesach (Passover). They harvest the wheat every summer when the sun beats down on the fields, thoroughly drying the wheat. The wheat is then stored until the winter when they start the production and baking of matzos.
Aharon Samet, owner of the “Samet” factory producing “tzitzis” (fringes), is the Badatz [a religious food-supervision company] community supervisor for the wheat harvest. On a radio program today (July 30th) with Rabbi Moshe Ben Lulu, Samet told the story of a great miracle which occurred for the people of Israel thanks to this year’s wheat harvest.
“This year we are getting ready for the Shemitta agricultural sabbatical year, so this summer we harvested wheat grain for two years. We searched the whole country, looking for wheat which was sown late in the season and needed rain which, specifically, fell late. At Kibbutz Sufa, right next to the Gaza border, we found an entire field sown in mid-January, which was considered very unusual, and we found there 2000 acres [sic] of green wheat which was just right for us,“ said Samet.
“We harvested the wheat,” said Samet, “and we ran into military police, as well as undercover and regular police, who came to check out who we were.” The Gaza air campaign was already underway, and Samet and his colleagues saw the smoke clouds over Gaza, and heard the sirens while they were busy harvesting and transferring the wheat to trucks and moving them towards the cleaning plant near Masmiya for cleaning the wheat, fumigating and tithing it.
Two days later, 13 terrorists from Gaza came out from a tunnel which opened into those fields near Sufa. The terrorists had been planning a big attack, and had been counting on hiding among Sufa’s giant wheat field–which the matzah makers had just chopped down. The terrorists couldn’t understand how their camouflage had disappeared.
The empty field enabled military observers to spot and identify the terrorists, and open fire on them. Many Jewish lives were thus saved by the grace of Heaven.
Yes, this is just a story about a ‘coincidence’. But then, Jews know that the word, ‘coincidence’ is just another way of saying, ‘the hand of G-d’.
Happy is the nation that recognizes the G-d of Israel.