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A Shmitah Miracle!

bananas.jpgRabbi Shmuel Bloom of Agudath Israel of America is a busy man involved in important matters concerning Klal Yisroel. Why would he, then, spend a considerable amount of hours traveling to
look at bananas during his recent trip to Eretz Yisroel?

A completely secular farmer whose produce is bananas decided that he would undertake to keep Shmitah this time around. He approached the Keren HaShviis for assistance and they stipulated that he would be registered in their program if he would also undertake to be personally Shomer Shabbos throughout Shmitah. He agreed. Keren HaShviis undertook to cover his farming expenses in return for which all the produce would become the property of Otzar Beis Din and would be distributed in full accordance with Halacha.

Israel has suffered a significant cold spell over the past 2 to 3 weeks.

Bananas don’t like cold. Cold doesn’t like bananas. Needless to say, they don’t get along. When bananas are still growing and get hit with frost, they turn brown and become rock-solid hard.

The hero of our story, the banana farmer, knew he was in deep trouble when the relentless cold hadn’t let up for over a week. He lived a distance from his orchard and hadn’t yet seen the damage with his own eyes. He began to receive calls from his neighbor farmers, who have orchards bordering his, complaining bitterly that their entire banana crop had been destroyed by the frost.

He decided it was time to inspect the damage up close, no matter how painful it may be.

He drove up close to Tverya to inspect his orchard, as well as those of his neighboring farmers. As he passed from one orchard to another, he was overwhelmed by the damage. Not a single fruit had survived, no tree was spared. His neighbors took quite a beating. All the bananas were brown, hard as a rock. He could only imagine how bad his trees must have gotten it.

Yet when he finally got to his orchard, he was awestruck! ALL of his bananas were yellow and green. It’s as if his orchard was not part of this parcel of land. His orchard bordered those of his neighbors, but not a single tree of his was struck by the frost. It’s as if a protective wall kept the damage away. At first he thought he was imagining it, and as he rushed from one section of his orchard to another, the realization that more than the farmer keeps the Shmitah, the Shmitah keeps the farmer hit home.

He immediately called his contacts at Keren HaShviis and yelled into the phone, “Karah Nes!, Karah Nes!”

A miraculous modern-day manifestation of V’Tzivisi Es HaBracha!. There is no way to explain this other than that HaKodesh Baruch Hu keeps His promises. He says keep Shmitah, and I’ll take care of you. He sure does!

Keren HaShviis reports that farmers that until now refused to keep Shmitah, have been turning to the Keren following the losses suffered as a result of the frost, they are now ready to commit to Shmitah observance.

And so, Rabbi Bloom took the time to travel all the way to Tverya and back to witness this awe-inspiring phenomenon. During the previous Shmita (2000-2001) Agudath Israel of America
provided over $1,000,000 to Keren HaShviis. It plans to do even more this time around.

40 Responses

  1. Please explain:
    “Keren HaShviis reports that farmers that until now refused to keep Shmitah, have been turning to the Keren following the losses suffered as a result of the frost, they are now ready to commit to Shmitah observance.”

    They will keep Shmitta this year? They are turning to Kere Hashviis to help them…this year?
    They lost their crop…..for THIS YEAR. Sounds more like a welfare program

  2. I am getting goose pimples after reading this amazing story. This story should be publicized all over but I am sure the secular Israeli media will either ignore it or downplay it that it was just by chance and deliberately ignore the yad hashem in this event.

  3. i read this story with tears in my eyes!! Stories like this keep us going strong! As a student, iv always heard various stories about the miracles that happened to the farmers that observed shmittah! A modern day miracle like this one surely strenghtens us all and shows us clearly that God runs the world and not the farmers!

  4. i was very happy to hear this story. i also dont understand the keren shviis thing. hashem promised 3years of fruit to the one who keeps shmittah, so why do we need keren shviis?


  6. Truly a beautiful story.
    Inspiring, eventhough we do not need proof or miracles to make us keep the Torah and Mitzvos.

    What I do not understand…. What does Rabbi Bloom have to do with this story?. What did he add to the miracle or the Mesiras Nefesh of the farmer. This is a awe inspiring story as it is, without adding the first paragraph.

  7. I remember seeing pictures from back in the 50’s in EY where plots of land were consumed by a locust outbreak, but the field whose owner was shomer shvi’is, his plot of land was unscathed. It was indeed a sight to behold.

  8. #20 – go advice, go back and re-read the story — the paragraph quoted in #7 was talking about the farmers that were NOT observing Shmitah and AFTER the crop was ruined, they said ok we will not work the land, pay us please.

    I agree with post #7 that it sounds like a welfare program, however, if there are funds able to help these Yidden, then perhaps it is a good idea to help them and show that we care – hopefully, this will bring them closer to complete Torah Observance.

  9. Excuse my total ignorance but can somebody please explain to me………This farmer can’t benefit from his bananas anyway, so what’s the diference if they’re spoilt or not?

  10. i think the point of the story is that he kept shmitah and his crops maintained! who cares about the rest?! sometimes looking TOO deeply is not good either!

  11. Torah4Me, since the Bais Din took over ownership, they have the right to sell it and share profit with the farmer.

    #25 and #7, I am guessing the point was that these farmers committed to it for future years, and perhaps, to be Shomer Shabbos for this period as well.

    As for me, I agree the miracle was great, but a greater miracle is that the farmers who have suffered losses in the past even when keeping Shemitta continue to do so unquestioningly.

    HaShem’s promise to give three years of blessing is only if you ask what you will eat. If you don’t ask, you will be sustained miraculously and be satisfied with less.

    Mi k’amcha Yisrael?

  12. the point of the story is that the guy kept shmitah and his crops maintained!!! SOMETIMES LOOKING TOO DEEPLY INTO SOMETHING ISN’T GOOD EITHER!!! who cares about the other stuff??!!
    although i do agree with #21 they could have left the first and last paragraph out.

  13. # 26 – I am no expert – however I believe that there are two benefits – one is that the freezing and destruction of a crop is harmful to the tree and will cause deterioration of the tree and future production, two – the bananas can be distributed to poor people. Irregardless it is an obvious miracle.

  14. This farmer’s produce was designated to become the property of Otzar Beis Din and would be distributed in full accordance with Halacha. They can then sell it according to Halacha, which would allow him to recoup some the costs. (unlike the regular for-profit sale.)

  15. #26 – The farmer became part of the Otsar Beis Din. This means that the Beis Din can hire people to pick his bananas and then sell them for cost price – just to cover the cost of the picking and shipping. The farmer and Beis Din do not make a profit.
    In this case, even though he can’t make a profit from these bananas, he still witnessed the open miracles that
    1)his trees are still healthy and not frozen (which will probably be better for next year’s crop) and
    2) The non-frum public will not even have the option of buying his neighbor’s bananas which are considered treif (if they were cooked in a pot, the pot would have to be kashered) and that the only available bananas are from his feilds which through the Otsar Beis Din are permitted to be bought and eaten.

    (As a side point, Otsar Beis Din only works for fruits. Vegetables which have the prohibition of “sfichim” can not be sold at all during shmitah – even through a Beis Din.)

  16. #21, and #29 – it appears to me that this story was actually made into a story because it was experienced and reported first hand by Rabbi Bloom!! What exactly bothers you about the fact that Rabbi Bloom is the person whose personal and “askanic” interest in Keren HaShviis was the factor that made this story available to you??

    If it were an anecdote that got publicized because Charlie Brown was the one whose interest and involvement made it public, would it equally bother you to know that???

  17. I would like to have a map of where the field is.
    #32 Are you certain that the neighboring crops are not permissible due to “heter mechira”. If this is the case then what renders dishes that they have come in contact with not kosher? If indeed they are not kosher, most hospital and public building food services will not be serving kosher food even in the years following shmitta due to the contamination of the vessels by heter mechira foods

  18. hashem promised 3years of fruit to the one who keeps shmittah, so why do we need keren shviis?

    Good question, but Hashem promised to those who keep Shmita D’oraisa. Most Poskim hold Shmita B’zman hazeh is d’rabanan. Thus one who keeps Shemita now isn’t keeping the Shmita that the Torah promises a Beracha for, rather they are keeping Draban Shemita, our job is to facilitate them in keeping the mitzva d’rabanan

  19. #36 – You are asking a very good question that comes up a lot – especially for people who want to go to relatives who do not keep shmitah l’halacha. Are their pots considered treif forever? Some rabbanim are maykil that after shmitah is over, there are heterim such as aino ben yomo etc. A rav must be consulted in each situation.
    B”H there are many hospitals in Israel that have a mehadrin hechsher and in the hospitals that don’t (Hadassah Ein Kerem, for example), packaged mehadrin food is distributed to the patients who want it.

  20. I am very distressed by the rush to proclaim this the “miracle of the bananas.” I have several reasons.
    First, and simplest of all, we do not have the ability to discern the reason why this farmer’s crops survived. Perhaps he gave extra tzeddakah. Perhaps he did certain chasadim that gave him the needed extra zechuyos.
    Second, according to Rabbi Bloom, surrounding farmers who relied on the heter mechirah suffered crop loss. The implication was clear: the heter mechirah is not acceptable. But the heter was devised by gedolai Yisrael, including Rav Yitzchak Elchanan Spector, Rav Yosef Engel and Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook, zt’l. Who today can compare to these giants? Moreover, in the face of enormous political pressure this erev Shemittah, Rav Ovadia Yosef, among our greatest poskim, came out in favor of the heter. Many hold that the heter is preferred, because it provides sustenance to Jewish farmers. Additionally, the Otzar Beis Din mechanism is itself a chiddush.
    What right has anyone to say that someone who asked a shai’lah and was told to use the heter is less qualified for a miracle than someone who used the Otzar?
    Moreover, Shemittah today is, according to almost all opinions, miderabbanan. According to some, it is not even a derabbanan, but rather a middas chassidus. Moreover, we are not absolutely certain about the calculation of the shemittah year. (It was these three factors, writes Rav Herzog zt’l, that formed the basis of the hetter mechirah.) Why are we so certain that Hashem’s promise applies to the derabbanan version of Shemittah? And if it does, why do we need the Keren Hashvi’is at all?
    One more comment: Contrary to what is written in post #32, one is allowed, according to most opinions, to eat fruits that were planted b’issur, as long as they are eaten bi’kedushas Sheviis.

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