Weekly Chasidic Story #1051 (s5778-20/ 13 Shevat 5778)

Faithful Farmers

Yaakov was the only religious person on the settlement. When the others played cards in the social hall in the evenings, he would be learning in the moshav's empty shul.

Connection: Weekly Reading of Mishpatim -- Returning lost objects (Ex. 23:4...see also Deut. 22:1-3)

Faithful Farmers


Yaakov Chaziza has always lived on a moshav settlement located on the border with Lebanon. Thus, his life has always been filled with worry about the possibility of an attack. He and his neighbors live every day knowing that at any minute they may have to grab their machine-guns and be called into action. Yaakov used to be the only religious person on the moshav. When the others played cards in the social hall in the evenings, he would be learning in the moshav's empty shul.

As a farmer, he was, of course, careful about keeping all the rules of the Torah pertaining to farming and agriculture. For example, he kept the laws of orlah - not partaking of a tree's fruit during the first three years of its life - and Shemittah - letting the land rest in the seventh year.

Aside from the plots he owned himself, he also owned a few plots in partnership with some local farmers, who were not religious. As a result, he would occasionally find himself in conflict with them about issues in Jewish law. Usually, they were able to work things out; one time, however, they were not able to come to an agreement. That event would change the lives of the people on the moshav forever.

As was normal for farmers in the area, Yaakov rented the farming equipment he needed each season. One year, one of his partners took charge of the rental without checking the day and date with Yaakov. The equipment was rented on a Friday, and had to be returned by Sunday morning, because the partners intended to do the work, which consisted of harvesting the crops, on Shabbat.

For Yaakov, of course, this was completely unacceptable. He would never allow work to be done in his fields on Shabbat, and he begged his partners to push off the harvest to a later date. However, they would not give in to his wishes.

In the end, the others' fields were harvested, while Yaakov's portion of the crop remained standing uncut. It had been a very bad year for the crops. The lack of significant rainfall had led to a poor return on the produce. The three other partners were happy to have salvaged at least a small portion of their fields. They mocked Yaakov and told him how foolish he had been to allow his crop to continue to grow. The inevitable result would be that Yaakov's entire crop would be lost.

Yaakov ignored their taunting, knowing that he had done the right thing. Three weeks passed. During that time, it rained very hard - unusual for that late in the year. As a result, Yaakov's crop flourished, and when he eventually harvested it he found that it far surpassed all his previous harvests. Not only that, but the yield was greater than that of his three partners put together. The other farmers were astonished!

This time there was no doubting Yaakov or the laws he followed. Yaakov's harvest caused a tremendous buzz among the members of the moshav. They were inspired to begin a change of lifestyle and a few of the men even started learning Torah instead of sitting around playing cards. It started with a few men, but the number grew, and within a few weeks there was a large group learning Torah under Yaakov's tutelage. It changed their lives, but they could never imagine just how much.

It was a mere three weeks after Yaakov had begun the Torah class. As the men left their makeshift beis midrash study center, happily discussing what they had learned, they heard a tremendous explosion. As soon as they realized it was a bomb, they all ran to their homes, afraid of what they would find. Their families were huddled together, shaking from fear; thankfully, there were no injuries or casualties.

Upon checking the moshav for damage, they were shocked to find that the bomb had hit the very social hall where they had usually spent their weeknights, playing cards. But this week, they had been elsewhere, learning Torah with Yaakov. They hugged each other and thanked the Creator for sending them a faithful messenger who had introduced them to the beauty, truth and salvation of Torah.


Source: Lightly edited by Yerachmiel Tilles from the rendition in "Shabbos Stories for the Parsha" (keren18@juno.com), 28 Elul 5772/September 15, 2012, reprinted from a weekly emailing of "Good Shabbos Everyone," where it was taken from A Touch of Warmth, by Yechiel Spiro, p. 124.

Connection: Weekly Reading of Yitro -- Shabbat observance is the 4th of The Ten Commandments, which are read publically in all synagogues this Shabbat. (And if his crops included wheat or barley, then there is also a hint to the festival of Tu b'Shvat that is celebrated in the middle of this week.)

Yerachmiel Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and chief editor of this website (and of KabbalaOnline.org). He has hundreds of published stories to his credit, and many have been translated into other languages. He tells them live at Ascent nearly every Saturday night.

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