“And if you say, ‘What shall we eat in the seventh year, if we 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. When you sow in the eighth year, you will be eating some of the old crop; you shall eat the old until the ninth year, when its crop arrives.” (Leviticus 25:20-22)
The shmittah year can be a trying one for farmers in Israel who desire to adhere to the biblical commandments properly, as they are required to let their land lie fallow for the entirety of the year. Karmey Chesed is donating tens of thousands of shekels to shmittah farmers to help alleviate any financial hardship they may have incurred by keeping the sabbatical year.
“The year after shmittah is not an easy time for farmers,” said Shlomo Yarimi, in an interview with Breaking Israel News. Yarimi is in charge of helping to distribute funds, equipment, furniture and electrical appliances on behalf of Karmey Chesed to local farmers in the southern region of Israel. “Some of the farmers we work with have nine children and had no way to make house payments this past year.”
Yarimi praised Karmey Chessed for the invaluable work that it continues to do. “They are number one. They are literally saving farmers here in the south,” he said.
Many of the farmers that Yarimi works with are former Gush Katif residents who have taken up the trade once again after losing their farms in the evacuation of 2005.
“Most of the farmers from Gush Katif keep shmittah,” Yarimi said. “We have over 25 farmers from Gush Katif that we work with, each one in their own way and each has their own special needs that arose this year.”
Many of the farmers from Gush Katif did not continue with the trade after losing their homes and farms in the evacuation. The few that did often remain in difficulties. Karmey Chessed has helped these farmers to make interim house payments, enabling them to keep their homes while their ground lay fallow in accordance with the biblical injunctions of shmittah. The organization even went so far as to provide clothing for some of the families.
“They are doing really many great things. Shmittah is a year in which finances are supposed to be made equal. Karmey Chessed is helping to make that a reality,” Yarimi said. “It is simply a life-saving organization, nothing short of that, and I am very proud to be a part of it.”