Baltimore, MD - June 28, 2022 - The N’shei Keren Hashviis international Shmitah events have been taking communities by storm, as women around the world enjoy the unique opportunity to connect to the mitzvah of Shmitah on a personal level, as they meet and receive a bracha from a Shmitah-observant farmer’s wife.
Their recent farmer trip to the U.S. included a stop in Baltimore, where women had the special opportunity to meet Shmitah farmer Ilana Toweg and hear her incredible story. They also had the honor of hearing from R’ Shia Markowitz, CEO of Keren Hashviis and a long-time askan who has served as the head of major communal organizations including the Agudath Israel of America.
For many women living in chutz la’aretz, this is the first time in their lives meeting a Shmitah-observant farmer and learning about this special mitzvah. Shmitah is not just “another” mitzvah; it’s a mitzvah of such national importance to Am Yisrael that Chazal tell us we were sent into Galus for failing to keep Shmitah; conversely, they teach that במוצאי שביעית בן דוד בא – that proper Shmitah observance has the power to bring the Geula.
The Torah explicitly promises a powerful bracha to those who observe it. There are many stories of miracles that have happened to farmers keeping Shmitah. As just one example, shortly before Purim, a Shmitah-observant moshav harvested the free-growing wheat in their fields to use as animal feed (according to the strict halachic requirements). After Purim, there was an unusually heavy rainfall in Israel. The members of the moshav were astounded to see that their wheat stalks suddenly grew again! Hashem blessed them with double the crop – with double the bracha.
And these farmers, who are such vehicles of bracha this year, also have the power to bless others. In fact, Rav Chaim Kanievsky zt”l would tell people in need of a yeshua to go seek a bracha from a Shmitah-observant farmer, because their koach to bring down blessing is so strong. Just recently, two older single women approached a farmer’s wife at an event in England, asking for a bracha. Within a month, both women were engaged!
However, miracle stories aside, Shmitah is an extremely difficult mitzvah to keep. These heroic farmers spend an entire year with zero income, while still having to pay their regular expenses, including the formidable costs for their farm’s upkeep. While Keren Hashviis gives them some assistance, it only covers 40% of their expenses – and tends to go to big-ticket items, like mortgage on their land, equipment rentals, etc. There’s no money left for food, clothing or utilities.
The N’shei Keren Hashviis fund was started this year for exactly this purpose – to help the farmers cover their basic household expenses. After nine months of Shmitah, many of them are in really desperate straits. They need our help.
Right now, each of us has an opportunity to get involved in this mitzvah, and have access to the tremendous zechus and bracha. Shmitah isn’t “their” mitzvah; it’s our mitzvah. They’re keeping it on behalf of the entire Jewish nation. We owe it to them to give them as much support as we can.
To donate or learn more about the N’shei Keren Hashviis: www.nsheikerenhashviis.com Or call: 646-547-1417