Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

2 Kislev 5761 - November 29, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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We Need Rain for Shmitta
by Yitzchok Roth

The water level of the Kinneret reached the lowest in its entire history this past Sunday (Cheshvan 28). Only 20 centimeters separate it from the new red line which the Kinneret Administration declared last summer, which is itself is a meter lower than the old red line. The water situation is so bad that drinking water for the forthcoming summer will be in danger, if cholila there isn't a significant improvement. However, on the issue of rains there is an additional point which we should bring to the attention of public -- the issue of the daily prayer of tal umottor livrocho.

This shmittah year, many more farmers took upon themselves to keep shmittah kehilchoso, according to the guidelines of gedolei Yisroel. Among them are many owners of lands who, according to the guidelines they received, sowed their fields on the eve of the shmittah year, when the crops which were supposed grow during the shmittah would be under the full supervision of the shmittah committees. Thousands of dunams were sowed prior to Rosh Hashanah, with a vast financial investment.

The gishmei brocho which we received a few weeks ago greatly benefited these farmers, and the seeds in their fields sprouted and began to grow. However, in order for these crops to indeed succeed, we need an additional wave of rains which will result in the continuation of the growth. Since that rain, no more rain has fallen, and a very real danger looms over those crops. According to the farmers, if significant amounts of rain do not fall in the forthcoming days, all of this planting will go to waste, leaving in their wake heavy financial debts which no one will cover.

They explain that farmers who do not observe shmittah kehilchoso (and all farmers in regular years) did not sow their fields, but rather wait for the beginning of the rainy season. If that season arrives late, they sow their fields late, and thus avoid damage caused by the delay of the rainy season. It is only the farmers who do not work their lands on shmittah and had to sow the fields on the eve of shmittah, who are liable to suffer a heavy financial blow if it doesn't rain shortly.

The rav of one of the agricultural settlements in the country's center who, with great mesiras nefesh, succeeded in convincing farmers from his settlement to observe shmittah kehilchoso, told me that one who visits the fields of the settlements can easily see where shmittah is observed and where it isn't observed. In the fields of the shmittah observers, the seeds which were planted prior to the shmittah year have already sprouted, and the fields are green and waiting for rain. Beside them are the brown fields of the farmers who are waiting for the rainy season so that they can sow their fields, Rachmono litzlan.

Both of these farmers lift their eyes to Heaven. The shmittah observers who believe in the blessing the Torah reserves for the gibborei hakoach pray that rain will fall soon and bring blessing to their land. Those who didn't withstand the great trial are waiting to see if indeed the blessing of Hashem Yisborach will befall their shmittah observing neighbors.

Beyond the distress of the farmers, the vital issue of kiddush sheim Shomayim stands on the balance. The early rains which fell a few weeks ago were a blessing to the shmittah observers, but in order for the blessing to continue, they need additional rain within a very few days, otherwise everything will go to waste.

Those who are not involved in the issue of farming, must know that if cholila these buds dry out, the damage will be irrevocable. The buds still haven't been damaged and can still grow, but only if rains fall these very days.

Therefore, the shmittah observing community can not suffice only with concern for its own needs, but must also share the burden with the shmittah observers, the farmers, the genuine gibborei hakoach who out of sincere faith undertook this great nisoyon. When we pray to Hashem for Heaven's blessing three times a day, let us not forget this issue too, which beyond the need for rain, is also a matter of kiddush Shemo Yisborach by the falling of rains of blessing, which will result in a great and most tangible public kiddush Shem Shomayim.

As we go to press, rain is forecast for the end of the week. May it come livrocho and cause a kiddush sheim Shomayim.


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