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23 Tammuz 5760 - July 26, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Maranan Verabonon: We Must Increase the Ranks of Shmitta Observers

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

Maranan verabonon the gedolei Yisroel, have called upon the public to strengthen the mitzvah of shmitta and to increase the number of shmitta observers in the country. They affirm that the Torah forbids reliance upon any so-called heter mechiro and that all who aid and abet this heter are causing a chilul Hashem, for in this manner they are demeaning the precious, sacred mitzvah of shmitta in the eyes of many.

During the past few shmitta cycles, many more farmers have joined the ranks of shmitta observers, letting their fields lie fallow according to halocho for the entire shmitta period. The public at large has also become more meticulous about purchase of fruits and vegetables which have no chashash shevi'is.

Still, various elements and official institutions stubbornly continue to rely upon the heter mechiro, thereby uprooting the mitzvah of shmitta and depreciating the mitzvos of the Torah, as if they could be uprooted by a heter which has absolutely no validity.

For these reasons, the gedolei Yisroel have issued a proclamation to arouse us prior to the coming shmitta year, in order that we merit fulfillment of the mitzvah of, "and the land shall rest, Shabbos to Hashem," a mitzvah which secures the foundations of faith in the Creation of the world and strengthens the trait of trust in Hashem Yisborach.

The gedolim add that Chazal praised shmitta observers highly, calling them, "men of valor," while concomitantly stressing the immensity of the sin of violating the laws of shmitta, designating it as the transgression which incurred the punishment of golus. Chazal add that when we strengthen our shmitta observance, we rectify the cause of the lengthening of the golus and hasten the Redemption.

In the proclamation, the gedolei Yisroel ardently plead: "We appeal to all G-d-fearing farmers not to work the land this shmitta and to sanctify Heaven's Name and join the King's legions. Rabbonim and activists throughout the country should make every effort to increase the numbers of shmitta observers."

Maranan verabonon explained that although approximately one hundred years ago some gedolei Yisroel relied upon the heter mechiro it was only as a temporary ruling, due to the tremendous poverty at that time -- to the point of pikuach nefesh. However, they did not intend this heter to apply to our current situation. Thus, whoever promulgates this heter abets uprooting of the mitzvah. In our opinion -- daas Torah -- it is forbidden to rely upon this heter. "The issue is not a debatable one that is dependent upon community affiliation. Every Jew is obligated to observe shmitta according to halocho. Whoever assists in instructing the public to uproot shmitta by means of the "heter" causes a chillul Hashem by showing that it is possible to disparage this precious, sacred mitzvah."

Maranan verabonon conclude their letter with the hope that "with the merit of observance of the mitzvah of shmitta we will be redeemed from all our sorrows, and dwell in peace and security in eretz Hakodesh."

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