For most of us here in chutz la’aretz, the mitzvah of Shemittah is basically not relevant to us personally. After all, we don’t own farms in EretzYisrael, and the produce we purchase generally does not come from there.
Yeshiva of South Shore is bringing Shemittah to life this year. It began last week when they invited Mr. Baruch Adiri, a Shemittah-observing farmer from Eretz Yisrael, to address the talmidim and to share his story, his insight, and his enthusiasm for keeping this special mitzvah.
After brief opening remarks from Rabbi Shlomo Drebin, special programs coordinator, the rosh yeshiva, Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky, introduced Mr. Adiri. Mr. Adiri spoke to the boys about his personal odyssey towards religious observance. He spoke about his background being a secular atheist, how he was miraculously saved from almost certain death during the Yom Kippur War, and how he discovered Hashem and slowly traveled the path towards Torah observance.
He admitted that it seemed absurd that he undertook the exceptionally difficult mitzvah of Shemittah in the year 5747, before he became fully observant, and how it has remained dear to his heart during all subsequent Shemittah cycles. He also gave a riveting account of the nissim, the miracles he witnesses with his own eyes and which he attributes to Hashem’s kindness in response to his keeping Shemittah.
For most of the talmidim, it was the first time they had met a frum Israeli farmer and they knew they were in the presence of a deeply courageous man who is making great financial sacrifices to do the will of Hashem.
The hanhalah of the yeshiva, moved by Mr. Adiri’s message, has committed to partner with him and the thousands of other courageous Shemittah-observing farmers through Keren Hashviis. The goal is to get every class involved by taking an active role in this extraordinary initiative through the purchase of privately owned agricultural land in Eretz Yisrael.
In addition, some middle-school classes will host a Shemittah fair later this year under the direction of Rabbi Binyamin Z. Karman, the yeshiva’s curriculum coordinator. The fair, which the entire student body will view, will display the many halachos of Shemittah, enhancing and complementing their classroom learning. Shemittah is very much alive and relevant at Yeshiva of South Shore.