#546 (s5768-36 / 8 Iyar 5768)

The Sabbatical Orchard

The Jewish Agency offcial, caught up in the enthusiasm of Rabbi Mendelson of Komemiyut, authorized the planting of an orchard in the moshav.

Triple Yield


In the year 5712 (1952), the Jewish Agency decided to plant orchards in several settlements throughout Israel. One of the designated orchards was slated for Moshav Komemiyut (located in the south, near the city of Kiryat Gat).

The moshav's residents stipulated one condition: No work was to be done in the orchard during the Shemita (7th, Sabbatical) year. The Jewish Agency rejected the condition, and the planting of the orchard was delayed. Though efforts were made over time to come to an agreement, the issue of Shemita stood like a rock in the negotiators' path. No agreement was reached.

In 5718 (1958), the year before a Shemita year, the rabbi of the moshav, Rabbi Benyamin Mendelson, had a lengthy discussion with the Jewish Agency administrator in charge of the orchard plantings. Eloquently, the rabbi explained the significance and the holiness of Shemita, how beloved it is to the Creator, and how inextricably it is linked to the coming of the Mashiach. The Jewish Agency official, caught up in Rabbi Mendelson's enthusiasm, authorized the planting of an orchard in Komemiyut in which all the laws of Shemita would be faithfully observed, in accordance with the rabbi's instructions.

The orchard cost the Jewish Agency about half a million lirot. The Shemita came in the second year after its planting, when young saplings require constant care. This care was tendered only with Rabbi Mendelson's permision. Those responsible at the Jewish Agency warned the rabbi that he was endangering the orchard and that the entire investment was likely to be lost, but the Rabbi Mendelson was firm in his faith in the Al-mighty, and in the merit of the mitzvah of the Sabbatical Year.

In the month of Av, near the end of the Shemita year, the Jewish Agency administrator in charge of the orchards came to see Rabbi Mendelson, highly excited. He told him that out of the twelve orchards in his care, only one of them - the one planted in Moshav Komemiyut - observed the laws of the Sabbatical Year. And this very orchard had flourished more than all the others!

"How can you explain this?" the man asked wonderingly.

Rabbi Mendelson answered simply and fervently. "I believe with complete faith that the Holy One -- blessed be He -- created, creates, and will create all creations - including the orchard. Because we are fulfilling His will, G-d showered His blessing on the orchard!"

The years of orlah (the initial three years when fruit may not be eaten) passed. The trees were tended like the trees of other orchards. The average yearly yield was approximately 700 containers of citrus fruit.

Then the year before Shemita arrived once again. The Jewish Agency staff could not believe the report that came in: That year, Moshav Komemiyut's orchard had yielded more than 2,000 containers of citrus fruit! At first, they suspected a serious counting error. The figures were checked and re-checked - and were proved to be accurate. That year's yield was triple that of every other year!

Once again, they came to Rabbi Mendelson for an explanation. The rabbi smiled, opened a Chumash Vayikra, and read (Levit. 25:20-21), "If you will say: What will we eat in the seventh year? - behold! We will not sow and we will not gather our crop! I will ordain My blessing for you in the sixth year and it will yield a crop sufficient for the three years."

The Jewish Agency people, though distant from Torah observance, needed no further explanation. With their own eyes, they had witnessed the fulfillment of the Torah's words!


[Adapted by Yrachmiel Tilles from Stories My Grandfather Told Me (Mesora) by Libby Lazewnik.]

Editor's note:
For another story on Sabbatical Year miracles at Komemiyut, see story #168 in this series from seven years ago.

Another editor's note:
If you are in Israel in the months before Passover, an expedition to the Komemiyut matza bakery is worthwhile, even if only to see, and the quality of their hand-made shmurah matza is famous worldwide.

Yerachmiel 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, and many have been translated into other languages.

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

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