September 13th-14th 2021 – WHAT’S IN A SEVEN?

THE NEW YEAR HOLIDAY CHUBEZA DELIVERY SCHEDULE:

Yom Kippur Week:
Monday, September 13 delivery will be as usual. Wednesday deliveries will be moved up to Tuesday, September 14.

Beginning of Sukkot Holiday Week:
Monday deliveries will be made on Sunday, September 19.
No delivery for Wednesday customers (unless we’ll notify your differently by email)

End of Sukkot Week and Beginning of Simchat Torah:
During this week, Wednesday deliveries will take place on Wednesday, September 29.
There will be no Monday delivery.

Over Chol Hamoed there will be no vegetable deliveries. But we greatly hope to renew our longtime annual tradition (so rudely interrupted by Covid) to host you at Chubeza’s Open Day at the Farm. Details to come once we receive the government guidelines. We can’t wait to welcome you back, and fervently hope that all will take place as planned.

OUR BEST WISHES TO YOU FOR A WONDERFUL, HEALTHY & HAPPY NEW YEAR!

_____________________________________

The Sabbath Year, the Year of Shmitta

Welcome to the New Year 5782! Aside from it being a new year, it is also the seventh, the Shmita (שמיטה) sabbatical year. As is our custom every seven years, when we encounter another “seventh,” we give you a glimpse at Shmita and Chubeza’s mode of action throughout this special year.

Let’s start at the very beginning. In the Bible, Shmita is mentioned in two places from which the various laws eventually stemmed. The first time was at Mt. Sinai itself:

The Lord said to Moses at Mount Sinai, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a Sabbath to the Lord. For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and gather their crops. But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards.  Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest.  Whatever the land yields during the sabbath year will be food for you—for yourself, your male and female servants, and the hired worker and temporary resident who live among you, 7 as well as for your livestock and the wild animals in your land. Whatever the land produces may be eaten. (Leviticus 25, 1-7)

The second time it’s mentioned is in Moses’ speech in the Book of Deuteronomy, just as the Israelites are preparing to enter the Land of Israel:

At the end of every seven years you must cancel debts. This is how it is to be done: Every creditor shall cancel any loan they have made to a fellow Israelite. They shall not require payment from anyone among their own people, because the Lord’s time for canceling debts has been proclaimed. (Deuteronomy 15, 1-2)

Even at first glance, it is evident how different these two sources are. The first is agricultural and ecological, with an emphasis on the land resting, the earth taking a sabbatical and the prohibition against carrying out specific farming actions. The second source is of socio-economic relevance, with a commandment to forfeit debts and a prohibition to demand their payment.

From this very prominent difference, it may seem at first that we are discussing two very different matters that have been clumsily clumped together. On second glance, these two aspects of Shmita in fact complement each other. Shmita is asking us to forfeit our ownership of land, achievements and property, inviting us to remember that we are merely a component of the universe, not the center of it, and we are not the ones who run the business. This invokes modesty and humility. The outcome of the internalization is to refrain from forcefully working the land, even if it is a “positive” use of force, as well as from conducting forceful actions against our fellow men and women.

Tractate Shvi’it in the Mishna, a chapter dedicated to the various laws concerning the year of Shmita, commences in a discussion about the agricultural conduct over during the seventh year: “Till when does one plow the orchard on the eve of the seventh year?” (Shvi’it 1,1) As it continues, the Rabbi’s deal with the socio-economic aspect: “The Prozbul does not require the cancelling of debts. This is one of the laws Hillel instituted when he realized the people of Israel are refusing to loan money. (Chapter 10, Mishna 3)

What is this Prozbul (פרוזבול) initiated by Hillel the Elder? The Prozbul is in fact a bill of loan that bypasses (with the consent of all parties and the confirmation of the Beit Din court) the Biblical commandment to forego the debt. According to the Biblical commandment, a debt that was not repaid by the seventh year is revoked, but, as the Mishna explains, this creates a complex problem: people were refusing to loan money to those in need, for fear of their loan being annulled (similar to banks who only lend to those who are able to return the money, not to those who actually need it…). Hillel realized the Torah never intended to make life harder for the needy or the weak or anyone who simply wants to make a living. On the contrary, which is why in order to encourage loans, he instituted the Prozbul – a foregoing-bypassing bill.

Fast-forward to the days of the first agricultural settlements in Israel, some 130 years ago, when the pioneer Jewish settlers arrived in Palestine. They devised a solution that serves in many ways as a “Shmita bypass,” similar to the Prozbul – the “Heter Mechira” (היתר מכירה).

Life was not simple for the pioneer farmers of the First Wave of immigration. These novice farmers were inexperienced, the land they bought was not particularly fertile, the climate and crops were unfamiliar, etc. Although most of these early settlers adhered to Jewish law, the commandment to keep the 1889 year of Sabbatical seemed a frightening contradiction to the basic necessity for food. If they took a break from working the earth for an entire year, how on earth (pardon the pun) would they earn their bread? In addition, there was the fear that by letting the land lie fallow, their non-Jewish farming competitors would gain the upper hand.

These reasons led to the solution of a Heter Mechira, supported by rabbis from the Diaspora. The Jerusalem Ashkenazi rabbis were highly opposed to this solution, which in essence does away with the commandment of Shmita. Thus, the “Shmita Controversy” followed. What was it about? The Heter Mechira allows for a temporary sale of the land to a non-Jew. In such a case, the Jewish farmer is enabled to work the land during this year, similar to the way Israeli Chametz is temporarily sold to non-Jews every year on Passover. Selling the land to a non-Jew rids the need to adhere to Shmita, as only Jewish landowners are obliged to keep the commandment. Fruit that grows on land not owned by a Jew does not hold the sanctity of that grown during the Sabbatical Shmita year.

Supporters of Heter Mechira view the situation differently. Shmita is part of a greater commandment of Jubilees. The Shmita sabbatical year takes place every seven years, culminating after seven Shmita rounds in a fiftieth “Jubilee Year.” During this period, all the land purchase agreements which took place over the previous 49 years are annulled, kind of like “rebooting” your system, and all the lands return to their rightful owners (via the original land distribution to tribes). However, the Jubilee laws do not hold these days, only when Israel is governed by a monarchy, the Sanhedrin and other governmental and political conditions that are irrelevant today. And this is what the Yerushalmi Talmud has to say about these matters:

Vezeh dvar hashmita-shmot –there are two Shmitas, namely Shmita and Yovel. When Yovel is applicable, then Shmita is practiced by Torah ordinance, but now that the Yovel year is no longer applicable, Shmita is practiced ‘from the (Rabbi’s) words’” (Shvi’it Yerushalmi, 10:2)

Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi connected Shmita and Yovel, stating that upon ceasing to obey the laws of Yovel due to historical reasons (the dispersion, etc.), Shmita, too, is not relevant.

Rav Kook, the chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv and the first Jewish settlements in Israel, who supported Heter Mechira, even brought up the Talmudic precedent of taxes and Rabbi Yannai. Due to heavy taxes imposed upon the habitants of the country by the Roman government, in an economy that was largely based upon agriculture, ceasing to work your land would bear grave consequences. Rabbi Yannai thus sent the farmers to break the laws of Shmita and plant during the seventh year. Rav Kook quoted this story and claimed that the reason Rav Yannai called for seeding the land is because the land was in fact owned by non-Jews to whom the Jewish farmers were forced to pay taxes.

Today the Heter Mechira is the solution for most of the vegetables grown in this country, and we at Chubeza will be using it this year.

To conclude, I want to note one final fascinating way to allot significance to the seventh year, by a movement named “Israeli Shmita”.

In their words: The Hebrew Calendar is a cycle of six years of doing, followed by a year that is a “Sabbath of the Land.” A year in which the land itself “celebrates” the Sabbath, and each and every one of us is invited to partake. This year, property is not everything, time does not press, and nature is much more than resources to take advantage of, and we are called to be better and more empathetic versions of ourselves. Israeli Shmita is an initiative aimed towards introducing us to the ideas and values behind Shmita and allow us to accept the invitation of this special year by breathing, learning, connecting to the community and close environment and taking part in a year of healing and repairing.

Their website has a host of ideas and thoughts on this subject.

We wish you a year that holds some of the peace and release of Shmita, a time to stop and take a deep breath, and an observation of the many wonders surrounding us.

Wishing you happy holidays.

Alon, Bat Ami, Dror, Orin and the entire Chubeza team

____________________________________________________

WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S BOXES?

Monday: Bell peppers, Thai yard-long beans (lubia)/short Iraqi lubia/ okra, parsley/coriander, eggplant/potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, slice of Neapolitan pumpkin/butternut squash, sweet potatoes, corn/popcorn.

Large box, in addition: Leeks, green soybeans (edamame)/cherry tomatoes, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard.

FRUIT BOXES: Small boxes: Pomegranates/bananas, mango, grapes, pears.

Large boxes: Greater quantities of pomegranates/bananas, mango, and grapes, plus nectarines.

Teusday: Bell peppers, Thai yard-long beans (lubia)/short Iraqi lubia/okra, New Zealand spinach/Swiss chard/basil, eggplant/potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, slice of Neapolitan pumpkin/butternut squash, sweet potatoes, corn/popcorn.

Large box, in addition: Leeks, parsley/coriander, cherry tomatoes.

FRUIT BOXES: Small boxes: Bananas, mango, grapes, pears.

Large boxes: Greater quantities of pomegranates/bananas, mango, and grapes, plus nectarines.