Sabbatical Year/Shemitah, Part 5

Leviticus 25:1-7 The Lord then spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When you come into the land which I shall give you, then the land shall have a Sabbath to the Lord. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its crop, but during the seventh year the land shall have a Sabbath rest, a Sabbath to the Lord; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard. Your harvest’s aftergrowth you shall not reap, and your grapes of untrimmed vines you shall not gather; the land shall have a sabbatical year. All of you shall have the Sabbath products of the land for food; yourself, and your male and female slaves, and your hired man and your foreign resident, those who live as aliens with you. Even your cattle and the animals that are in your land shall have all its crops to eat.

Exodus 23:10-11 You shall sow your land for six years and gather in its yield,but on the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the needy of your people may eat; and whatever they leave the beast of the field may eat. You are to do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.

So there is the law. Read it for yourself. What does modern day Israel think of this? What is going on today? Do farmers comply? 21st century responses are interesting. There are approximately 6,700 farms in Israel today (November, 2014). According to the Israeli government, about 50 farms did not comply with the statute. Roughly 450 farmers left their land for the year.

Last month the government sold the fields to a non-Jewish Israeli, a 25-year-old Russian immigrant named George. Because the fields are not Jewish owned, farmers can continue to work the land during the Sabbatical year. The farms will be returned to the original landowners after the Sabbatical year is over next fall. Technically, a farmer can continue to market their produce to Orthodox Jewish customers. Just a little bit of legal manipulation…

It is the spirit of the law that matters.

One particular farmer employs the practice of hydroponics. He grows plants in water instead of the soil. Technically, he is not working the ground. The vegetables are grown on platforms separate and apart from the land. Therefore, he is not breaking the law of God…so goes the thinking. Gilad Fine states, “We observe the Shemitah every year.”

Even your smart phone can help navigate the observance of the Sabbatical year. An app has been developed and can be downloaded. The app answers questions about the Shemitah year. The app has a list and map of land exclusions and exceptions to the Sabbitical land rest. The app comes with a list of Shemitah terms and definitions, a list of produce with explanations as to what rules of Shemitah apply, and two e books (one four pages long and the other 80 pages). The app is free and is only available for Android devices at this time.

Seems to be some skirting of the law…

2 Responses to “Sabbatical Year/Shemitah, Part 5”

  1. Selling your land to a foreigner temporarily to circumvent Yahweh’s law is not the letter and definitely not the spirit of the law! How is this practice allowing the land to rest?
    Matt. 15:8
    “This people draw near to me with their mouth ,and respect me with their lips, but their heart is far from me”.

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