Israel National News meets heroic farmers who have set their tools aside for an entire year, in order to keep the Torah laws of Shemittah - the Sabbatical year - trusting that G-d will provide them with their livelihood.
“It’s not an easy thing to do, but we’ve been longing to fulfill the mitzvah of shemittah in the most perfect way,” says Rabbi Yitzhak Sofer of Bnei Netzarim, a community in the south of Israel. “We hope very much that with the support of the Jewish People, we’ll manage to make ends meet.”
Sharon also farms land in Bnei Netzarim, and he too is letting his land rest for an entire year.
“After we were driven out of Gush Katif we came here, to settle this strip of land and develop it into something ten times bigger than Gush Katif was,” he relates. “In a regular year, we’d be making a nice income, but now it’s shemittah, and with four families on 160 dunams of land and another 100 dunams of greenhouses, it’s not simple at all.”
Shmuel Sackett, founder and CEO of Am Yisrael Chai, spoke with Arutz Sheva about his organization’s efforts to support Jewish farmers in Israel and enable them to keep the sabbatical (shemittah) year “the way it’s meant to be kept.”
“Am Yisrael Chai was founded in 2001,” Sackett relates. “We’re doing a lot of great things – and this year, one of the projects we’ve taken upon ourselves is to support four farmers and their families, to enable them to keep shemittah.
“We helped farmers plant 70,000 fruit trees, right up to the shemittah deadline,” he says. “The question now is, what are these farmers going to do for their livelihoods for the next twelve months? If we support what they’re doing – and we do – we have to help them.”
Three of the families have ten children each; the fourth family has “just” nine children…
“Here at Am Yisrael Chai, we’ve taken upon ourselves to donate over half of the money raised from our Dream Raffle to farmers keeping the laws of shemittah,” Sackett tells us.
“After all, that’s what we all want – to get things back to the way they should be, the way things were in Biblical Israel, both in terms of its boundaries and the way the shemittah was kept back then.”
The prize going to the winner of the Dream Raffle is a luxury apartment in the holy city of Jerusalem worth a million dollars. “It’s not just any apartment – this is a luxury apartment with a view of the Temple Mount,” says Sackett. When the time comes, “You’ll be able to just open up your window and see the Holy Temple.”