Aley Chubeza #218, October 6th-7th 2014, Chag Sukkot Sameach!

Changes in delivery dates due to Sukkot and Open Day at Chubeza:

This week, Monday deliveries as usual, Wednesday delivery will be moved up to Tuesday, October 7th.

• During Chol HaMoed Sukkot, there will be no deliveries, thus you will not be receiving boxes on Monday and Wednesday, the 13th and 15th of October.

Contrary to previous years – This year we are “ignoring” Sukkot week, thus those of you who receive your boxes every other week will have a 3-week gap in deliveries. 

Open Day at Chubeza
In keeping with our twice-yearly tradition, we invite you for a Chol HaMoed “pilgrimage” to Chubeza to celebrate our Open Day.
The Sukkot Open Day will take place on Monday, October 13th, the 19th of Tishrei (fourth day of Chol HaMoed), between 12:00-17:00. The incomparable Hazel Hill Band will make their traditional appearance from 12:00, and set our toes to tapping.

The Open Day gives us a chance to meet, tour the field, and nibble on vegetables and other delicacies. Children have their own tailor-made tours, designed for little feet and curious minds, plus special activities and a vast space to run around and loosen up.  (So can the adults…) This year we will be using empty toilet paper rolls to create arts & crafts projects. You are most welcome to collect and bring some along to the Open Day.

We will have a vegetable stand and a Melo HaTene fruit stand where you can stock up on goodies for the rest of the holiday. In addition, we will be selling a range of high-quality organic products from our various partners: Manu, the delectable bakerwoman, Pua’h and Oded, our charming goat dairy owners of Meshek 42, and Melissa of Mipri Yadeha, makers of natural dried fruit and leather. You are welcome to meet them, chat, ask questions and taste away.

Driving instructions are on our website under “Contact Us.” Please make sure you check this before heading our way.

Wishing you a holiday of happiness. We look forward to seeing you all!

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The Year of Sabbatical, part two

Last week I started bringing Yochai’s words of wisdom from the last Shmita year. This week, we will continue the explanation, and elaborate on Chubeza’s solution.

The third stage – the “Heter Mechira”  is a late legal controversy regarding a solution that serves in many ways as a “ Shmitta bypass,” similar to the Prozbul discussed last week.  Jump back to the days of the first agricultural settlements in Israel, some 130 years ago: the Jews arrive in Israel and start working the land once more, and the questions of Shmitta resurface.

Life was not simple for the farmers of the first wave of immigration. These novice farmers were inexperienced, the land they bought was not very 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 scary contradiction to the basic necessity for food. If they took a break from working the earth for a whole year, how on earth (excuse 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 complicated threats 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 Shmitta. Thus, the “Shmitta 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 Shmitta, as only Jewish landowners are obliged to keep the commandment. Fruit that grows on land not owned by a Jew do notes not hold the sanctity of that grown during the Sabbatical Shmitta year.

It is important to understand that Shmitta is part of a greater commandment of Jubilees. The Shmitta sabbatical year takes place every seven years, culminating after seven Shmitta 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). The people assemble together in a ceremony called Hakhel. 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 Shmittas, namely Shmitta and Yovel. When Yovel is applicable, then Shmitta is practiced by Torah ordinance, but now that the Yovel year is no longer applicable, Shmitta is practiced ‘from the (the rabbis’) words’ [mid’rabanan]. (Shvi’it Yerushalmi, 10:2) Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi connected Shmitta and Yovel, saying that upon ceasing to obey the laws of Yovel due to historical reasons (the dispersion, etc.), Shmitta too became a commandment that is not from the Torah, but from rabbinical words.

Rav Kook, the chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv and the first Jewish settlements in Israel, who supported Heter Mechira, even brought up the precedent of taxes and Rabbi Yannai. A Babylonian Talmud story depicts the conflict between the wish to keep Shmitta and the practical difficulty of observing it. In the backdrop of that era were the heavy taxes imposed upon the habitants of the country by the Roman government. At that time, not working your land would bear grave consequences, as the economy was largely based upon agriculture. Rabbi Yannai sent the farmers to break the laws of Shmitta and planting during the seventh year. Rav Kook quoted this story and claimed that the reason Rav Yannai called to seed the land is due to the fact 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. Vegetable growers do not, in fact, have any other choice. But the buyers do, of course. Recent media reports indicate that the Ministry of Defense decided to refrain from buying fruits and vegetables grown via Heter Mechira and instead to import produce from the PA and Jordan. The Ministry of Defense denied this news. I don’t know what’s right, and maybe this item, too, will evaporate into oblivion. But I do think it’s worthwhile to remind those who make decisions of the beautiful and temperamental words written by Rav Kook in 1910 to the Gaon, Rabbi Chaim Berlin, a leading Jerusalem rabbi. In his letter, Rav Kook discusses the fact that the strict rabbis who deny the Heter Mechira prefer to outsource their produce purchases:

“My hand shakes as I write about the terrible deed being done to our brethren or the settlements, after it was already agreed not to allow the sale of non-Jewish produce so as not to cause poverty to the impoverished and depressed people of Israel whose living is based upon the purchase of their grapes… Conniving people secretly advised to purchase from non-Jews and thus supply them with business. See how we are our very own enemies. One cannot begin to imagine the vastness of disgrace and desecration and evil that lies in this act. The blood of my heart boils, and my pain reaches the heavens from this terrible situation.” (Letters of the Rav Kook)

If you wish to read more about the modern Heter Mechira and check out farmers who are included, as well as receive instructions to those purchasing from farms which adhere to this system, see the Shmita committee website (in Hebrew)

To conclude, I want to bring up one last significance attached to this seventh year, by a movement named “Israeli Shmitta”:

The law of Shmitta that the Torah bestowed on the Jewish nation obliged every farmer in Israel to leave his/her land every seven years, to let go of his/her fruit and allow the earth and animals rest, as well as permitting anyone to enter a field and take from the yield of the earth. This year was also one where financial debts were cancelled and people were granted the opportunity to start over on an economic and social level. This year, property is not everything, time does not press, and nature is much more than resources to take advantage of. The year of Shmitta presents an alternative inundated with the love of the people of Israel and the land, which aims to renew the quality of life in all various systems via a unique public effort. May this be a year of social involvement, of spiritual and moral renewal and of deep observation. A year of friendship, culture, spirit, family and community. A wrinkle in time opening once every seven years, calling for the renewal of the covenant between man, society and land, one that leaves its impression on the six years to follow.”

Their website has a host of ideas for this new year. Take a look for yourself. We wish you a year that holds some of the peace and release of Shmitta, a time to stop and take a deep breath of air, and an observation of the many wonders surrounding us.

Wishing you a happy holiday! See you on Open Day!

Alon, Bat Ami, Maya, Dror and the whole Chubeza team

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WHAT’S IN THIS WEEK’S HOLIDAY BOXES?

Monday: New Zealand spinach, sweet potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, slice of pumpkin, parsley, cucumbers, green and red bell peppers, arugula/bok choi, corn. Small boxes only: leeks.

Large box, in addition: Scallions/chives, radishes, eggplant, Jerusalem artichokes/Thai beans/lubia.

Wednesday: cilantro/parsley, cucumbers, piece of pumpkin, tomatoes, lettuce, corn/eggplants/red and green peppers, radishes, scallions/chive, arugula/pac choi, sweet potatoes, small box only: potatoes.

Large box, in addition: leek, New Zealand spinach, Jerusalem artichoke, okra/yard long beans/lubia.

And there’s more! You can add to your basket a wide, delectable range of additional products from fine small producers: flour, fruits, honey, dates, almonds, crackers, probiotic foods, dried fruits and leathers, olive oil, bakery products, pomegranate juice and goat dairy too! You can learn more about each producer on the Chubeza website. On our order system there’s a detailed listing of the products and their cost, you can make an order online now!