Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

5 Adar 5761 - February 28, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Five Million NIS Transferred to Shmittah Observant Farmers

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

Stipends to the tune of five million NIS were transferred last month to the thousands of farmers who observe shmittah according to halocho. Since the beginning of the current shmittah, these giborei koach have let their lands, fields and vineyards lie fallow. The farmers are united in the framework of the Nationwide Center for Shmittah Observing Farmers founded by HaRav Binyomin Mendelsohn zt"l, the previous ga'avad of Kommemiyus.

The Keren Hashevi'is Subsidy Committee is headed by Rabbi Reuven Winderbaum. Committee members include HaRav Yissochor Dov Lederman, Rabbi Benzion Kugler, Rabbi Gavriel Morgenstern, Rabbi Moshe Hess, Rabbi Naftoli Yaakovson and Rabbi Refoel Hoffman. The Committee recently held meetings to formulate criteria for distribution of the subsidies. The amount of the subsidies are determined in accordance with the following criteria: a) how many dunams of land are lying uncultivated; b) the types of crops; c) the overall amount of crops produced in the years preceding the current shmittah.

Rabbi Yosef Guttman offers professional advice to the committee and maintains regular contact with the Nationwide Center of Shmittah Observing Farmers coordinators. The coordinators keep in constant touch with the thousands of farmers who have taken upon themselves to observe shmittah, offering guidance and advice. They also supervise the farmers' lands throughout the year to see that shmittah is indeed being observed according to the halachic demands as determined by HaRav Menachem Mendel Mendelsohn, the rav of Kommemiyus.

It is important to stress that the subsidies to each farmer from community contributions do not pretend to fully compensate him for his lost income. However although these subsidies are very basic, they help the farmers, encouraging them to continue their courageous observance of shmittah despite all of the incumbent hardships. When the farmers feel that the community understands their difficulties and actively shares their burden, they are encouraged.

The Keren Hashevi'is administration stresses that despite the encouraging communal response to appeals by the gedolei Yisroel from all circles, who have entreated us to support generously Keren Hashevi'is, the amounts given until now do not come close to meeting the true needs of the thousands of farmers in hundreds of settlements that are letting their land lie fallow for a year and even more. These farmers await communal support. The community must be a genuine partner in this unique mitzvah of letting the land rest. This mitzvah is incumbent on each and every Jew.


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