Monday, July 11, 2022

Shmitta 5782 Berry Picking at Bikurei Shilo

Moriah Rapaport Shapiro is seen here talking
to our group about Shmitta and the story of the 
picking farm Bikurei Shilo.
Shmitta, The Sabbatical of the Land comes every seven years, parallel or similar to our Holy Shabbat Sabbath which is every seven days. The big difference is that while Shabbat is required for all Jews in all parts of the world, and even universe, shmitta is only for those fruits and vegetables grown in the Land of Israel on Jewish owned Land.

During our two thousand years of exile, when Jews weren't working or owning the Land, shmitta became an unobserved and unknown mitzvah, even more so than the Mitzvot only observed in the Holy Temple. 

Shmitta only became relevant again when Zionist pioneers began farming in the Land of Israel. Rabbis, Jewish landowners and farmers-- many who weren't Torah observant have been struggling for well over a century to find ways to faithfully observe the mitzvah without damaging the economy. A few years ago, I reviewed a fascinating book about how the pioneers of Mazkeret Batya struggled for the rights to strictly observe shmitta, Rebels in the Holy Land, The Story of Mazkeret Batya.

Before we were allowed to pick the fruit, blueberries and raspberries, Moriah explained to us the history of the "farm" and psak, Torah decisions it's basing its shmitta practice. The fruit which is now ripening is the holy seventh 7th year fruit, so it can be eaten but not wasted. Any which must be thrown out is put in special receptacles, which they will handle later.

After the talk, we were each given a small container and set off to pick the fruit. The blueberries are delicious, a real treat. We got a lot of exercising while picking, since the ripe ones were low down on the bushes. There were very few raspberries ripe for the picking when we were there. Later in the season there will also be blackberries, Gd willing.

For more information on when to visit, open Sunday-Friday except for Jewish holidays, contact 0527966630. Bikurei Shilo is at the western side of the Shilo Junction and can be reached by car or bus. Individuals, families and groups are welcome. Their facebook page is in Hebrew, but you can message them in English. 

You can arrange tours and shmitta explanations in Hebrew and/or English for families and groups. Other activities are "tractoron" tours among the vineyards, bows & arrows, blow up playground activities, pitta baking, arts & crafts and more. Give them a call.

Besides the picking fruit, they sell all sorts of snacks including an "ice pop" made of their own fruit, which is absolutely delicious. There's also a playground for children.

We had a wonderful time, highly recommended for all ages.

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