VAAD HaSmita Letter from the The Relief Agency for Keepers of Shemitah in Eretz Yisroel
The letter of the gaon (scholarly genius) and master of the Torah, Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzinski, shlit”a (may he live and be well)
By the grace of G-d, Year of Shmittah (seventh year when the land of Israel must lie fallow), Vilna.
To the rabbis and geonim as well as to the orthodox laypeople in the United States and Canada, may your light shine. Shalom.
It is an uplifting vision (lit. a vision that makes the heart sing) to behold these days: the news of the self-sacrifice for the sake of Torah that the orthodox, Torah-observant farmers who have settled the land of Israel in various settlements working the fields and vineyards and the communes of G-d-fearing workers have taken upon themselves in guarding the seventh year according to Halacha (Torah law) without seeking any Halachic leniencies. They are prepared to dedicate themselves throughout the year to the pursuit of Torah [knowledge] and their heritage, and to give of their spirit to strengthen Judaism in the holy land. How great is the spirit of these faithful pioneers! May our lot be with them, a people who are called “mighty heroes who fulfill His commands and adhere to His words”.
But shall we stand at a distance? Surely we must take part in their [endeavor] and support them! [We must] concern ourselves with their survival and establish a Shevi’is (Shmittah) fund to find work for them in the building sector or in other ventures that do not fall under the prohibition of Shevi’is. [We must] procure the financial means necessary for the subsistence of these heroes. Brothers, Children of Israel throughout the diaspora, girdle yourselves! Lend a hand! Participate in this great Mitzvah of saving the lives of the [G-d] fearing, so that those who sacrifice their lives not suffer the shame of hunger, and that the laws of Shmittah not be forgotten – as the gaon, the Netzi”v (R’ Naphtali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin), of blessed memory has already proclaimed. In addition to the Mitzvah of supporting the settlement of the holy land by religious [men], the Torah’s commandment (of Shmittah) will also be strengthened. Lucky are those who support [this undertaking], great is their merit and their portion in rebuilding the land, supporting the G-d fearing, and strengthening the Mitzvah of Shevi’is. May they merit to witness Zion and Jerusalem at the [final] consolation (i.e. the redemption).
Yearning for salvation among [a people] bound by hope,
Chaim Ozer Grodzinsky, Vilna.