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Updated: May 26
If you come to Israel this fall, you will face the same challenge pioneers in the late 1800’s faced : how to enjoy fresh, healthy produce while fulfilling the mitzvah of Shmitta. What is Shmitta? Simply put, the Torah commands Jews living in the Land of Israel to let their fields, farms and gardens rest for an entire year once every seven years, allowing the needy and thereafter the wildlife to eat from the field. (Exodus 23:10-11; Vayikra 25:5). What then, do we eat during the Shmitta year? Fearing starvation, rabbinic leaders of the time introduced legal ways to “get around” the laws of Shmitta such as chetter mechira (selling one's land to a non-Jew) and otzer beit din (limited distribution of food without profit through rabbinic councils). While you can still find these solutions today, you can now also find produce that has been produced without using any soil, that not only complies with the Shmitta commandment, but satisfies other Torah commandments as well, like ba'al tashchit, not wasting important resources. StartUpRoots promotes soilless farming as a delicious end unto itself, but also as a platform for teaching and fulfilling Torah commandments like Shmitta. How do Torah commandments connect to other issues like food security, sustainability, private ownership and community cohesion? Stay tuned to find out more in future blogs!