VAAD HaSmita Letter from the The Relief Agency for Keepers of Shemitah in Eretz Yisroel
An appeal for help from the terrific gaon, Rabbi Chaim Ozer, for those who rest on the seventh year in Israel
By the grace of G-d, Year of Shmittah, Vilna
To the Rabbis, geonim, and to the orthodox laypeople and synagogue leaders. Shalom.
It gladdens the heart to hear that [even] at this time there exist such courageous, religious field workers in the land of Israel who, notwithstanding their terrible conditions in this horrific year, desire to fulfill the Torah’s law and keep the command of Shmittah without seeking any leniencies, which may not be granted this year in any case. Their exigency notwithstanding, they will not be able to work the fields and will and will have to rest as required by the Torah. How difficult is their self-sacrifice at such a terrible time! Yet the Torah’s commandments are dear. Know, dear Jews, that such workers and settlements are to be found in the land of Israel, and we can merit to help such courageous men of spirit so that they and their families will not have to starve this year. A shmittah committee has been established to try and find them work in the building sector which is absolutely permitted [according to Jewish law]. This may be accomplished only through your support. Brothers! Take part in the rescue of the thousands of religious working souls in our holy land. Only in the land of Israel can such people be found! Our sages call them “mighty heroes who adhere to His words” . They are our true heroes who sacrifice their lives to uphold the holy Torah in our holy land, and it is everyone’s duty and merit to help them. All who participate in upholding those who rest on the seventh year in Israel shall be blessed to see the consolation of Zion and Jerusalem, and with all manner of good.
Chaim Ozer Grodzinsky, Vilna
It is superfluous to add to the precious words of the gaon of our generation, Rabbi Chaim Ozer, may he live and be well. Everyone knows the sad economic plight of our brethren in the holy land, where due to the recent unrest many of them have been left without a means to live. The plight of the field workers was never a glittering one and now more than ever, and especially in this year of shmittah they and their families are in danger of falling prey to hunger, Heaven forbid.
We therefore appeal to all of our brethren in America: help these G-d fearing workers! A committee has been established to find work for them in the building sector, in such occupations that are Halachicly permitted even in this year of Shmittah. Help us so that they and their families not go hungry! Every party looks out for its members at a time of need, [therefore] let us provide work and bread for our faithful brethren in Israel who sacrifice their lives to heed the Torah’s laws and to build the land of Israel. Let everyone give away a piece of his bread for our true national heros. Let no one be missing from the list of donors for this holy cause. This is not a yearly donation – to the contrary, every year they subsist solely on the work of their own hands. This is a once-in-seven-years occurrence. We must thank G-d that [even] in this generation we have merited such faithful Jews in our holy land. [With your donation] you are supporting the rebuilding of the land of Israel, the fulfillment of the Torah’s laws, and such righteous workers, may they multiply.
With blessings of Zion and Jerusalem,
Israel HaLevi Rosenberg Eliezer Silver
Dovid Aryeh HaKohen Loewentahl Joseph Kantowitz
Send your donations to Rabbi El. Silver, 810 Hutchins Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio
Or to Rabbi B. Notelowitz, 933 S. 1st St., Louisville, Ky.