Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What's the connection between YBA and Shmita?

Rosh Hashana this year (5775) marks the start of the Shmita year. The Torah commands us not to plant in the soil of the Land of Israel every seventh year - "Shabbat Haaretz."

This mitzvah created a dilemma for the early pioneers in Eretz Yisrael, whose livelihood depended on agriculture. Rabbi A.I. Hacohen Kook came to their aid by creating his famous "Heter Mechira" ruling, which gave the early pioneers a halachicly permissible way to continue tilling the soil during the Shmita year. The anti-Zionist Haredi community in Eretz Yisrael at that time refused to accept Rabbi Kook's ruling, and still today, will only buy Arab grown produce during the Shmita year.

Amir Dror-Fogelman
However, for the religious Zionist community in Israel today, it is still an important value to support Jewish agriculture in the Land of Israel. So in the past two Shmita cycles, the Otzar Haaretz organization has worked to provide Jewish grown produce in accordance with Halacha to the general public. Otzar Haaretz is endorsed by virtually all religious Zionist rabbis in Israel as the perfect halachic, ethical and Zionist solution to the Shmita conundrum.

This year Otzar Haaretz will be supplying fresh produce to over 120 stores across all of Israel. Amir Dror-Fogelman,the CEO of Otzar Haaretz and graduate of YBA Yad Avraham in Netanya says, "I believe that, b'ezrat Hashem, the extensive preparations we have invested in for the coming Shmita year will be successful, and that every Jew in Eretz Yisrael will be able to keep the mitzvah of Shmita in accordance with halacha. It is important to prove, first and foremost to ourselves, that we have the where with all and ability to serve the entire public on a national scale."

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