web analytics
October 4, 2015 / 21 Tishri, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Shmita’

Shmita News: Knesset Committee Approves Bill to Erase Debts of the Destitute

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

(JNi.media) A new “Shmita Law,” releasing more than 20 thousand Israelis who are too poor to meet their debt obligations, has passed on Tuesday in the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice committee and is on its way to a House vote.

Every seven years, according to Torah law, on the year of Shmita (Heb: to drop), all financial debts are forgiven. The rabbis, seeing that a literal application of this law would bring the market to a halt, devised means of forcing debtors to pay up, but the principle by which people down on their luck get an opportunity to start over is important. Important enough to be on its way to becoming a law in Israel, and how fitting it is that the legislation will take place during 5775, which happens to be a Shmita year.

At the end of a long discussion Tuesday, the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice committee, headed by MK Nissan Slomiansky (Bayit Yehudi) unanimously passed the “Shmita Law” which erases the debts registered with the Execution Office against thousands of Israelis with limited means, when there is no chance that they would return the debts to their creditors, Kalkalist reported.

The committee decided to apply the new law to those who have been defined as limited over the past four years, rather than over five years as stipulated in the original government bill, a change that increases the number of potential beneficiaries to 22 thousand.

The committee’s decision was unanimous.

The law was initiated in the current Knesset by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi), and has been merged with a bill offered by MK Merav Michaeli (Labor). According to the new law, debt write-offs will apply over the next three years to debtors whose overall outstanding debt is less than $210 thousand, and who do not owe more than $105 thousand to any single creditor, and they have complied with their assigned debt repayments for the previous three years.

In the current situation, borrowers who are unable to repay their debts can declare bankruptcy. But many debtors who come from disadvantaged population groups shy away from the bureaucratic complications involved. Instead, they submit to an examination of their financial ability by the Execution Office Registrar, who assigns them lower monthly payments according to their income.

But that level of payment is not enough to return the debt, and sometimes not even the interest, while in the meantime the debtor can’t use credit cards, open a bank account, establish a business or leave the country.

“About 22 thousand people, who have been living under the shadow of multiple debts and exorbitant interest rates can breathe a sigh of relief,” said Minister Shaked. “I congratulate the Constitution Committee, which approved the bill and contributed to a welcome change in Israel’s society and economy.”

According to estimates provided by the Justice Ministry in the past, the average debt of a person who is entitled to debt forgiveness is $65 thousand. Most of the debts are owed to institutions such as banks, government agencies and commercial companies.

Creditors are entitled to appeal to the Execution Office Registrar regarding debt erasure decisions.

Pres. Rivlin Receives ‘First Fruits of the Field’ for Shavuot

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

President Reuven Rivlin is reaping the fruits of years invested in good relations with Israeli farmers.

On Thursday, the president and his wife Nechama received two big baskets of fruit and vegetables from the nation’s farmers, in concert with the tradition of bringing the “first fruits of the field” to Jerusalem on the eve of Shavuot.

In the time of the Holy Temple, reminded Meir Yifrah, a member of Moshav Ohad (near the Gaza border) and the secretary-general of the Israel Vegetable Growers’ Association, the custom was scrupulously observed, with farmers bringing their produce to the Kohanim (priests) of the Temple. Today, he smiled, they are bringing their produce instead to the President of the State of Israel. Along with Yifrah were farmers from every part of the country.

For 20 years, MK Rivlin was a member of the lobby that advocated for the farmers of Israel, working for subsidies when things got tough.

On Thursday, Rivlin offered to become an active voice for the farmers once more. It’s not a new move for him; Rivlin has always taken an interest in agricultural affairs, partly because his wife Nechama was born on a moshav (an agricultural cooperative community.)

Due to this being the shemittah – seventh – year, in which the fields are allowed to lie fallow, there are fewer varieties and less to offer, but what there is was brought and received with joy.

NGOs to Promote Social Change in Israel through ‘Forgotten Mitzvahs’

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

Last Thursday, at the modest offices of the Likud’s Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) faction, representatives of several organizations got together to develop common strategies for applying Jewish laws and principles in Israel, including, possibly, future Knesset legislation.

Manhigut Yehudit, established more than 12 years ago by now MK Moshe Feiglin, is pushing a policy of taking Orthodox Jewish political power away from the sectarian, religious parties, to the general, preferably larger Israeli parties.

According to Michael Puah, formerly the director of Feiglin’s movement, and until recently special advisor to Social Affairs Minister Moshe Kahlon, the fact that religious Jews are so influential in Israel and in the new Knesset, presents new challenges in promoting change in Israel through core Torah values.

The informal assembly drew a couple dozen representatives of existing NGOs who are already engaged in active promotion of a variety of issues. Anthropologically speaking, the room was about half knitted yarmulkes and a couple settler-sheitels (headscarves), and half Haredim in the black and white uniform. But if you closed your eyes and just listened to what they were saying, it was difficult, often, to tell them apart. In language and in their complete embrace of the idea of the Jewish state, they all shared a deep, well thought out view of the modern miracle of Jewish rule in Eretz Israel.

“Our joint goal is to have the Torah guide our agenda in all areas of life,” said Puah. “The ideal of ‘Tikun olam b’Malkhut Shadai’ (setting up the world in light of God’s kingdom) requires us to create and innovate from within the Torah, which is the task that each organization participating in this conference has taken on, in each particular field of involvement.”

Rabbi Yehuda Amichai, head of the Torah and Eretz Institute, gave a comprehensive overview of the efforts being made to promote proper Shmita year observance in Israel, during which the land will truly lay fallow.

Rabbi Amichai noted that the Knesset Shmita Committee was supposed to begin its preparations for the year 5775 (2015), the next sabbatical year in which Jewish farmers may not work their land. Except that the current political reality does not allow for assembling it and for allocating a budget for its activities—seeing as the freshly elected 19th Knesset is still in the process of getting its act together, and coalition talks are yet to reach their results.

Amichai complained that these conditions cause uncertainty and a lack of preparedness on the part of farmers about the concrete aspects of observing the Shmita, most crucially creating a fund to support them through the sabbatical year.

“It is urgent that we start applying political pressure to set up the Shmita committee and to allocate the needed resources for its operation,” said Amichai.

Rabbi Amichai also stressed a more common problem—since it applies once a week, every week—Shabbat observance in Israel. “The economic and business reality force people to work on Shabbat, which is a form of slavery. These people are just slaves, they have no choice. We express first and foremost a social message: we can change it.”

“Regarding Shmita legislation for the year 5775, our top agenta issue is supporting a bill proposed by MK Uri Ariel, which aims to regulate through legislation the tax deductible savings by farmers in the six years between Shmitot. These savings will allow farmers to survive through the seventh year without government support.”

A group called Jewish Banking, represented by Rabbi Eliyahu Soloveitchik and writer Ehud Tokatly, introduced the project of creating the legislative conditions that would permit the foundation of a kosher bank, which would provide most banking services without transgressing the severe prohibitions against usury, and without resorting to the so-called Heter Iska, which was created in the diaspora, in times of duress.

Tokatly told the conference that in the West there are several credit union and Islamic banks which have survived the economic crisis while many commercial banks crashed a few years ago.

“They learned from us how to live without charging interest, and now we have to learn back from them what we originally taught them,” lamented Tokatly.

The Jewish Banking group has also built banking models that facilitate kosher financial liquidity in a global economy.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/ngos-to-promote-social-change-in-israel-through-forgotten-mitzvahs/2013/02/10/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: