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27 Apr '23

Etrogim in a Year of Shmita

Posted by shmuel haskelewitch
The practice of Shmita, or the Sabbatical year, is a unique tradition in Jewish law that requires farmers to let their land lie fallow every seventh year. During this year, farmers must refrain from planting and harvesting crops, and allow the land to rest and rejuvenate.

The laws of Shmita apply not only to crops that grow from the ground, but also to fruit trees, including the etrog tree. This means that during the Shmita year, farmers in Israel are not allowed to harvest etrogim, the special citrus fruit used during the holiday of Sukkot.

This may seem like a significant challenge for those who rely on the etrog trade for their livelihood. However, many farmers in Israel have found ways to navigate the laws of Shmita while still maintaining their businesses.

One approach is to grow etrogim in greenhouses or on trees that are not subject to the laws of Shmita. Some farmers also work with rabbis and experts to develop alternative methods of harvesting etrogim during the Sabbatical year, such as using mechanical harvesters or harvesting only a portion of the fruit from each tree.

Despite these efforts, the laws of Shmita can still pose a significant challenge for etrog farmers in Israel. Some farmers choose to take a break from the business during the Sabbatical year, while others may seek alternative sources of income.

However, many farmers view the observance of Shmita as a meaningful opportunity to connect with their land and their faith. By taking a year to allow the earth to rest, they are fulfilling a fundamental Jewish principle of caring for the environment and preserving the natural world.

Moreover, the observance of Shmita is a powerful reminder of the importance of balance and sustainability in our lives. By taking a break from the constant cycle of production and consumption, we can reflect on our values and priorities, and consider how we can live in greater harmony with the world around us.

In this way, the laws of Shmita are not just a challenge for etrog farmers in Israel, but a source of inspiration and renewal for all of us. Whether we are farmers or city-dwellers, we can learn from this ancient tradition and strive to live more intentionally and in greater harmony with the world around us.

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