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Wheat field (illustrative)

Israeli Agriculture Minister Oded Forer met Tuesday with his Jordanian counterpart and the ambassadors of both countries to sign an import deal for the upcoming Shemittah year in Israel which begins on Rosh Hashana.

According to Israel’s Foreign Ministry, the government will prioritize Jordanian agricultural imports to “attend to the observant population in Israel on the one hand, and to implement the benefits (to Amman) as stipulated in the trade agreement.”

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The Shemittah year is observed in accordance with the Torah commandment in Leviticus 25:5 to allow the land to rest and “lie fallow” each seventh year, also called the “Sabbath year.”

Ahead of each Shemittah year, the Jewish State arranges the purchase of agricultural goods from nations abroad to prevent a lack of product on the shelves from Jewish-owned land in Israel.

During Shemittah, agricultural activity such as plowing, planting, pruning and harvesting are all prohibited by Jewish law. Cultivation activities such as watering, fertilizing, weeding, spraying, trimming and mowing may only be carried out to prevent the debilitation or destruction of the plants, and not to strengthen or otherwise improve the growth of the trees and other plants.

Farmers who observe this halacha (Jewish law) receive interim payments during the Shemittah from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) dedicated to their support for the year.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.