Wednesday, October 17, 2007

First Shmitta in the State of Israel - Time Magazine 1952

Here is the start of an amazing article from 1952 on the first shmita in Modern Israel! We don't realize what a miracle it is for us to have Shmita again!

Shmita: 5712

Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard and gather in the fruit thereof;

But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the Lord: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy "vineyard.

—Leviticus 25:3-4

When the kingdom of Israel was governed by the Law, farmers scrupulously deserted their fields at the end of each six-year period. Throughout the sabbatical year, called shmita, the whole land lay fallow. The ancient Jews ate only meat and the grain they had stored, trusting in the Lord's bounty to see them through their man-made drought.

The year 1951 (by Hebrew count 5712) was the first shmita to come round after Israel gained its independence. But with a partly Socialist government and a farming population that is generally far from Orthodox in its religious views, Israel's modern Orthodox rabbinate was hard put to observe the Law. To avoid flouting it openly, the rabbis technically "sold" the entire territory of Israel to an obliging Arab named Mahmoud. Mahmoud gave the rabbis power of attorney, which enabled them to "sell"the state back to themselves, at the close of the sabbatical year.

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