Jewish farmer in Samaria (Shomron)
Jewish farmer in Samaria (Shomron)Flash 90

With the Shemitta year fast approaching, farmers and students will be able to get a first-hand look at how to conduct themselves in accordance with the Jewish laws that apply to this special year at six “model farms” that the Knesset Agricultural Lobby will be funding. The Committee will spend NIS 900,000 on the project, said MK Zvulun Khalfa (Jewish Home), chairman of the Committee.

In recent months, Khalfa conducted lengthy negotiations with the Treasury in order to secure funding for educational projects related to the agricultural sabbatical year, in order to lift the mystery of what Shemitta is and why it is so important for children and adults.

The government runs 40 educational and demonstration farms, from Dimona in the south to Kiryat Shmona in the north. The farms are operated by the Ministry of Education's Rural Education Administration. The farms are educational centers for agricultural and environmental studies. Thousands of students from all sectors visit the farms each year.

Six of these farms will be retooled to demonstrate how agriculture should be conducted during Shemitta – what labors are permissible and which forbidden, how fruits and vegetables need to be treated during the year, and details of the various methods of allowing permissible work.

MK Khalfa welcomed the move, saying that “the arrival of the Shemitta year is a great opportunity to strengthen the relationship of Israeli students to the land, in a practical manner. I welcome the support of the Ministry of Finance that will enable thousands of students to understand what Shemitta is t and recognize the social ideals behind the law.”

The next shemittah year will begin this coming Rosh Hashana (Jewish new year) in September. The somewhat complex issues of shemitawere thoroughly explained in Arutz Sheva articles in 2007, ahead of the previous shemittah year, which began then. The funding is expected to be approved Sunday during the weekly government cabinet meeting. The Torah commandment to leave fields fallow for one year every seven years involves many complicated Halakhic (Jewish legal) issues, and opinions differ on how best to adhere to the laws without unduly harming farmers' livelihood.