Questions and Answers with Shlomo Walfish
Question: Why is this Tu B’Shvat special?
Answer: This is the first Tu B’Shvat since Shmitta has ended. Farmers who observe Shmitta could not plant trees last year or even sell their produce. How would you like taking a Sabbatical year without a paycheck?
Question: Wow, so how did they survive and what happened with their produce?
Answer: Hashem promises to bless those who keep shmitta וְצִוִּ֤יתִי אֶת־בִּרְכָתִי֙ לָכֶ֔ם. Many farmers signed with Otzar Beit Din, to manage the Shmitta produce, which is available in stores now, such as avocados and citrus fruits for the cost of packaging and transportation, determined by the Otzar Beit Din, but NO extra profits from them at all.
Question: What’s going to happen this year?
Answer: Since farmers could not plant last year, they must plant more trees now.
Question: Don’t the farmers make money from the produce on the other years, can they get a bank loan?
Answer: Actually No. Banks won’t give farmers loans for fruit trees. They want to see a business plan that begins to show a return on investment within a year. The farmers that Zo Artzeinu help observe all the agricultural mitzvot מצוות התלויות בארץ. The first 3 years is orlah and they can’t sell. The 4th year, neta revai they redeem it, then take trumot and maasrot after that.
On the 7th year Shmitta, they can not sell their produce which is קדושת שביעית.
They invest a lot of time, effort and money. Water, fertilizer, fences, irrigation systems, weeding, are all expensive in Israel and an ongoing expense. If they don’t get the help from Zo Artzeinu they simply can’t plant the trees.
Question: Wow! so does it even pay for them to plant these trees and why do they do it?
Answer: They can make a little profit, just break even, or even lose. The reason they do it is they LOVE the Torah and land of Israel and want to help safeguard it. Where they plant, hostile Arabs can’t steal that land and those locations become safe. In addition to the mitzvot mentioned before they fulfill many more mitzvot like:
“When you come to the land Plant FRUIT Trees” (וְכִי־תָבֹ֣אוּ אֶל־הָאָ֗רֶץ וּנְטַעְתֶּם֙ כׇּל־עֵ֣ץ מַאֲכָ֔ל (ויקרא יט
“You shall clear out the Land and settle in it” (וְהֽוֹרַשְׁתֶּ֥ם אֶת־הָאָ֖רֶץ וִֽישַׁבְתֶּם בָּ֑הּ (במדבר לג נג
“You shall possess it and dwell in it” (וִֽירִשְׁתֶּ֥ם אֹתָ֖הּ וִֽישַׁבְתֶּם בָּֽהּ (דברים יא לא
Question: Nice, well if I help them plant fruit trees do I have a share in the mitzvot as well?
Answer: Absolutely! while the ideal way to perform these mitzvot is in Erez Yisrael, not everyone can.
HaRav Yosef Efrati, the 10 year shamash (assistant) of HaRav Shalom Elyashiv, expert on the מצוות התלויות בארץ and Rosh Yeshiva of בית המדרש להלכה בהתיישבות, said “People who help farmers in Israel plant fruit trees will be partnering with the farmer and sharing in all the mitzvot”
HaRav Yaakov Ariel, leading Posek on these mitzvot, former Chief Rabbi of Ramat Gan and Head of Torah VeHa’aretz Institute, מכון התורה והארץ wrote:
“…it is appropriate for everyone in the world to partner with a farmer in Israel in order to fulfill the Mitzvot, and through this partnership HE KEEPS THE MITZVOT AS WELL because the Land belongs to us all… I therefore bless the efforts of Zo Artzeinu’s Campaign.”
Question: Are there any other benefits to those who help the farmers?
Answer: Hashem blesses those who help in the observance of the agricultural mitzvot מצוות התלויות בארץ
“I will ordain my Blessing for you” (וְצִוִּ֤יתִי אֶת־בִּרְכָתִי֙ לָכֶ֔ם (ויקרא כה כא
Rav Chaim Kanievsky זצ“ל said: “We will be redeemed in the merit of Shmitta – בשביעית נגאלין“
Plus, EVERY order receives an authentic personalized Tree Certificate showing your partnership. Orders of multiple trees get free gifts. You can dedicate your trees in honor or memory of friends or loved ones. Keep the certificate for yourself or have Zo Artzeinu send it to others.
Question: Ok how do I partner with a farmer?
Answer: Just go to www.IsraelTrees.org and fill out a simple form. Since farmers need to plant double this year, a special donor is matching every tree planted so every tree order is DOUBLED! Plant 3 trees they will plant 6, plant 10 trees they will plant 20… and so on. Just enter promo code DoubleMyTrees
Zo Artzeinu’s Israel Trees program now in its 25th year, allows EVERYONE to partner with farmers in Israel. Dozens of farmers have been asking for help AFTER Shmitta. They will do all the work, but need people to partner with them. Make a difference! Partner with a farmer and Share in the Mitzvah and Blessing by Clicking Here!
Please share this article and the blessing with family and friends.