Can Israeli Farmers Still Follow God’s Commandments?

“We believe and pray that we’ll succeed. With God’s help there will be blessing”

By Ryan Jones | | Topics: Bible, Agriculture
Israeli farmers have it hard enough. But then the Bible wants them to stop planting for a full year?! Photo: Gershon Elinson/Flash90

From this past Rosh Hashanah (Sept. 7, 2021) until the next (Sept. 26, 2022) Israeli farmers who truly and fully follow the Word of God are supposed to let their fields lie fallow.

“For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops, 11 but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what is left. Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.” Exodus 23:10-11

This is known in Hebrew as shmita, which literally means “release.” The land is to be released from its toil to rest and recover, just as man is to be released from his work every seven days on Shabbat to rest and recover.

But is it a reasonable demand on farmers in our day and age? Today’s farmers are already earning far too little from their toils, what with major food conglomerates and imported produce making it impossible for them to compete on the supermarket shelves.

To then ask them to also take a full year off every seven years sounds like financial suicide, if not utter insanity.

But there remain those in Israel for whom following the Word of God is far more important than adhering to modern best practices, even if everyone else thinks they’re crazy.

“For the foolishness of God is wiser than man, and the weakness of God is stronger than man.” 1 Corinthians 1:25

Israel National News (Arutz 7) recently spoke to a number of farmers who are casting off worldly wisdom and going “all-in” on their dedication to God’s commandments.

“It’s not an easy thing to do, but we’ve been longing to fulfill the commandment of shmita in the most perfect way,” said Rabbi Yitzhak Sofer of Bnei Netzarim, a small village in the western Negev region.

“We believe and we hope and pray that we’ll succeed, with God’s help, to get by financially, and that there will be blessing,” added the rabbi.

For those so committed to His word on this matter, God has indeed promised blessing:

“And if you say, ‘What shall we eat in the seventh year, if owe may not sow or gather in our crop?’ I will command my blessing on you in the sixth year, so that it will produce a crop sufficient for three years.” Leviticus 25:20-21

We also know from Scripture that God often works and provides His blessings through men. Manna directly from heaven is a rare biblical occurrence. One of the men being used to bless these dutiful farmers is Shmuel Sackett, founder and CEO of Am Yisrael Chai.

Sacket told Israel National News: “What we want is to get things back to the way they should be, the way things were in Biblical Israel, both in terms of its boundaries and the way the shmita was kept back then.”

To that end, Am Yisrael Chai is helping to financially sustain these farmers and their families during the course of the sabbatical year.

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