Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

20 Cheshvan 5768 - November 1, 2007 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Agricultural Minister Driving Up Vegetable Prices for Shmitta-Observant Consumers

By Yechiel Sever

Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon began to execute his threat that if the Chief Rabbinate does not make use of the heter mechirah in every city around the country, the Agriculture Ministry would not allow the import of agricultural produce during the Shmittah year, thereby causing shortages and driving up prices.

Simhon instructed the Agriculture Ministry's Center for Foreign Commerce not to grant import licenses for agricultural produce until the Chief Rabbinate fully implements the heter mechirah in all cities and towns.

Kashrus organizations say that the Minister is causing a sharp rise in vegetable prices in chareidi areas. Simhon's aim in not allowing the sale of imported vegetables exempt from import duties is part of his Ministry's battle against local city rabbis who forbid the sale of vegetables that rely on the heter mechirah, which is forbidden by all gedolei Yisroel. By jacking up prices only the chareidi public would continue to buy, whereas retail markets for traditional Jews in outlying areas will not be able to sell any produce at such high prices, forcing them to use local heter mechirah produce.

Simhon's directive was issued despite his past remarks that chareidi children should not be discriminated against and "denied tomatoes to eat" during the Shmittah year. The Agriculture Ministry had declared that it would permit agricultural imports from Jordan to keep prices reasonable. Even that directive was not an act of munificence but was written in the peace agreement signed between the two countries that stated that agricultural produce can be imported duty-free.

The Agriculture Ministry held meetings with kashrus organizations and chareidi consumer groups to discuss where the produce would be brought in from, but when the Rabbinate refused to allow the sale of vegetables grown under the heter mechirah, Simhon informed them that he would not allow duty-free imports.

Kashrus figures said meanwhile that every day tons of olives are being allowed in from Jordan due to Agriculture Ministry officials' fears of raising the agricultural price index. "This is permitted and desirable," they said. "Whereas selling vegetables to the Shmittah-observant public is prohibited."

A letter has been sent to the Agriculture Ministry, but no reply has been received.


All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.