Shmitta Is Coming Soon
This upcoming Jewish New Year, 5782, begins is special and unique only to the Land of Israel, as it is 7th year, the Shmita year. We are forbidden to work the land during the Shmita year. It is to remain fallow. It is a commandment from the Torah that prescribes that the land rests for a year:
What is the Torah Basis of Shmitta?
We read in the Torah (Sh’mot 23:10-11), “You may plant your land for six years and gather its crops. But during the seventh year, you must leave it alone and withdraw from it. The needy among you will then be able to eat just as you do, and whatever is left over can be eaten by wild animals. This also applies to your vineyard and your olive grove.”
We are instructed by the Torah that during the seventh year of every seven year cycle, known as shmita, the land is left to lie fallow.
Our Sages explain that all agricultural activity, including plowing, planting, pruning and harvesting, is to be refrained from, whereas other means of cultivation, such as watering, fertilizing, weeding, spraying, trimming and mowing, may be performed as a preventive measure only, not to improve the growth of trees or other plants. Moreover, any fruits of the land which grow of their own accord are to be treated as hefker (ownerless) and may be consumed by anyone.
Which Produce Can and Which Produce Can’t Be Harvested Concerning Shmitta?
Unlike many vegetables and melons that are planted each year and need to be picked quickly, many fruit trees are different. For example, if you plant tomato plants in April, there will be new tomatoes regularly past the allowable date before Shmita, meaning they may grow after Shmita.
Rabbi Yisrael Kaniel, religious advisor to Buy a Piece of Israel, was born and educated in New York before making aliya to Israel in 1992, and has never left the Land of Israel ever since, explains that fruits such as olives have grown before the Shmita year, may be harvested after Shmita has begun. Conversely, fruit grown during Shmita, may not be harvested after Shmita has ended.
Rabbi Kaniel explains the laws of harvesting fruit before and after Shmitta:
How Does One Observe Shmitta?
What is not included?
A Jewish adult can observe the mitzvah of Shmita by owning land in Israel and refraining from working it during the Shmita year. This does not include renting land or other such short cut options. In addition, by planting the land before Shmita and not harvesting the fruit until the 4th year, you are also observing the mitzvah of Orlah. Buying Land in Israel – A Great Opportunity to Keep More Mitzvot. By following halachic guidelines, as done by Buy a Piece of Israel’s all Jewish labor project, the following mitzvot are also observed:
Trumot / Maasrot / Leket / Shikcha / Peah (tithes to Kohen, Levi & the poor)
When is the Last Planting Day in 2021 Before Shmitta 5782?
The last allowable day to plant fruit trees before Shmita is on the 15th of the month of Av. Because this year the 15th of Av falls on Shabbat, it will be on the 14th of Av, July 23, 2021. The next planting day will be shortly after Pesach. Announcements with the exact date will be forthcoming.
Who can Afford to Purchase Land in Israel and Other Misconceptions Concerning Land Ownership in the State of Israel
Many Jews in the Diaspora are under the impression that there is no private land ownership in Israel. While the majority of the land is not private with 80% government owned and 13% belonging to Keren Kayemet L’Yisrael, 7% of the land in the State is in fact privately owned.
The Buy a Piece of Israel project assists Jewish people both in the Diaspora as well as residents of Israel to observe Shmita in Israel. We have assisted in purchasing private land in Israel from the 7% of the land in the State which is in fact privately owned, for hundreds of clients including developing and managing the land for boutique virgin olive oil producing orchards, or even for small units containing as little as 1 olive tree. All you need to observe Shmita is to own 28 square meters of land, which includes 1 olive tree. Prices start just $1,550. There are many different options with sizes to suit almost all budgets.
Now you can authentically keep Shmita for the year 5782!