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Who’s Afraid Of The Little Old Winemaker?

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The aristocratic atmosphere in the elegant hotel that hosted Israel’s wine competition did not disclose the scene that was about to take place: A small boutique winery from the Shomron, Hararei Kedem, won two gold medals and one silver medal. Hundreds of professional and amateur sommeliers watched in astonishment as the man with the beard and long sidelocks (who did not look particularly relevant to the glamorous event) hesitantly ascended to the podium to accept his medals.

 

“There are two factors in this achievement,” said Ariel Sheetrit. “The first is that our vineyard is located in the blessed biblical inheritance of Joseph. The second is that we fulfilled the laws of the Shemittah year. We simply did not attend to the vineyard, as dictated by the Torah, and didn’t take finances into account.”

 

Sheetrit accepted his medals with thanks and walked off the stage. His award-winning wines were produced from the grapes of the sixth year of the seven- year Shemittah cycle. The experts told him that if he would not prune his vines during the Shemittah year, his entire vineyard would collapse. But just the opposite occurred – precisely what the Torah promises to the Jews who fulfill the laws of Shemittah: “And I will give you my blessing in the sixth year, and it will make produce for three years” (Leviticus 25:3). In the sixth year of the seven-year cycle, Sheetrit’s vineyard produced more than three times its annual average. Usually, a great increase in yield will reduce the quality of the grapes. But in Sheetrit’s case, both quantity and quality were extraordinary – as attested to by the medals.

 

At the beginning of the Shemittah year, Sheetrit divided his time between the permissible tasks in his vineyard and a strictly Jewish construction company that he had established. One of the major projects built by the company was the beautiful synagogue and yeshiva perched on a ridge overlooking his vineyard. The building permits were issued 11 years ago, and the Housing Ministry even helped with some partial funding for the project. But the majority of the funding came from donations, while the building was painstakingly erected - stone by stone – by Sheetrit and his friends.

 

Sheetrit thought that during the Shemittah year he would divert most of his energies from agriculture to construction, but a work accident forced him to change his plans. “I guess that our Father in heaven wants me to learn Torah during the Shemittah year,” he said with a smile. When he was released from the hospital, Sheetrit joined the many young men learning Torah in the new study hall.

 

You may want to know where you can find more people like Ariel Sheetrit. I’m sorry to ruin your preconceptions, but in complete contrast to the media brainwashing, the place where you can find him and others like him is in Yitzhar – the settlement that the government and media love to hate.

 

* * *

 

The Hararei Kedem Vineyards

 

This week, the Ministry of Defense announced plans to destroy the Od YosefChai synagogue and yeshiva that Ariel Sheetrit and his friends built. The last time in history that I can recall an official state decision to single out a synagogue for destruction was on Kristallnacht. Kristallnacht was preceded by a long period of dehumanization directed at the Jews of Germany.

 

There is no reason to turn to the Israeli courts in an attempt to counter this evil anti-Semitism. The fact that this building had all the necessary authorizations, and that thousands of Arab buildings are sprouting throughout our land like mushrooms after the rain, does not interest the court.

 

The people of truth in our land do not have courts to protect them from the abuse of the authorities. Turning to them just lends legitimacy to the mechanism of evil directly aimed at Sheetrit and his friends. They fear people like them like darkness that fears light.

 

Remember this: a small-time criminal acts against the law; a medium criminal bypasses the law; and a big criminal uses the law.

 

Any soldier, policeman or citizen who takes part in the destruction of the synagogue, God forbid, is a very big criminal – a first-class, law-abiding criminal. He is a pawn in the war that the anti-Semitic minority has declared on the truest Jews in Israel.

 

Ariel Sheetrit is just one of the recipients of your donations to the annual Manhigut Yehudit tree-planting project. May he go from strength to strength as he continues to build and settle every inch of our Holy Land.

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