#520 (s5768-09 / 25 Cheshvan 5768)

A Peck of Peppers

Even before the Sabbatical Year.

A Peck of Peppers

From HaModia, Aug. 15, 2007 by Sheindel Weinbach

This took place even before the Sabbatical Year began on Rosh Hashana.

A very expensive car pulls up to the bench on a street in Bnei Brak. N. W. (Name Withheld) steps out, looks around, and spots two men who seem like the people he is supposed to meet. They have no trouble identifying a totally secular person in Bnei Brak, and beckon to him. The three sit down for a chat.

N. W. is a farmer in a completely secular agricultural town in the Negev called Tzipporah. No shul, no mikveh. There is no one frum (mitzvah-observant) for miles to rub shoulders with or against. Why, then, has he come to this rendezvous with two Rabbanim from the Kashrut Certification division Eidah Hachareidit Rabbinical Court, the strictest of all, to learn about the best possible way of practicing the mitzvah of resting the land during the seventh year?

"Jewish practice is completely foreign to my life," he begins. "However, our family does have a practice of sitting down after the evening meal and reading aloud from various sources, both secular and religious, including Biblical, Talmudic and what not."

They came across the mitzvah of sh'mitah in their Bible readings (Lev. 1-6, 17-22) and their curiosity was piqued. "My wife is a mathematician, and when she read that the sixth year in each seven-year cycle is divinely blessed, she was determined to check it out scientifically. This turned out to not be difficult since I cultivate peppers on a large farm. We know it had been a productive year. My wife did the calculations and it turns out that, indeed, this year, our field had produced almost exactly twice its usual amount!

"We were so amazed, we decided to keep the seventh year holy, according to the Torah laws. But that was only the beginning!"

N. W. has a market for his peppers in Spain, but he also has a very active competitor who grows peppers as well.

"Every year we each try to corner the market for ourselves, and it is a tight battle. Having produced twice as many peppers this year, I assumed he had an excellent year also, and anticipated tougher competition. But I had not even made my bid when I got a call from my dealer in Spain."

Ready, Mr. N.W.? Here comes your Divine guarantee, black ink on parchment!

"My agent sounds all excited. 'Send me whatever you have! Your usual competitor was experimenting with a new insecticide which ruined his entire crop. The wholesaler is willing to pay five times the amount for your entire crop so that he can control the market!"

Five times two, anyone?

"I've already cashed in the profits," the casually dressed farmer says to the two black-hatted, long-coated rabbis. "See? I bought myself this new car."

No, he doesn't really need it; it's so he doesn't have to pinch himself again and again to make sure that he really hit the jackpot already!

"And this is even before I've even begun to actually keep the laws of sh'mitah in practice," he says in total amazement.

They nod wisely and begin their first lesson, "Hakadosh Baruch Hu metzareif machshavah tovah lemaaseh" - "The Holy One applies a good intention and rewards it even before it is put in practice." And then they go on to direct him to the people who will guide him, step by step, in how to keep the seventh year holy.


[Adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from the article by Sheindel Weinbach in HaModia]

Yrachmiel Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and editor of Ascent Quarterly and the AscentOfSafed.com and KabbalaOnline.org websites. He has hundreds of published stories to his credit.

A 48 page soft-covered booklet containing eleven of his most popular stories may be ordered on our store site.

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