Yesterday I took a Chol Hamoed trip with my family to the Ne'emah farm in Ofakim (in southern Israel, close to Gaza) that keeps the Sabbatical year laws. Just like Jews rest on Shabbat, the Torah commands us to let the land of Israel rest and replenish itself every seven years.
The owner of the farm whose name is "Bookie" became religious as a result of an open miracle that happened to him during the Yom Kippur War. He and 47 other soldiers were confronted by 80 Syrian tanks that mysteriously did not fire on them and retreated instead.
The first mitzvah that Bookie took upon himself was to not work his farm at all during the sabbatical year. Now, five seven-year cycles later, Bookie travels the world and speaks about the miracles that have happened to him as result of trusting G-d and not working for a whole year during schmita (the seventh year).
Bookie told us that inevitably his crop is doubled either in the 6th or the 8th year of the cycle to make up for not working during the 7th year. His face shined with excitement as he spoke about all the wonders that G-d has done for him and his family and pointed to his more than double harvest of wheat and barley. There was hardly any rain in Israel this year until the end of March. Bookie told his fellow farmers not to worry, though. At the end of the month there were three days of rain which is all they needed for their crops to grow to full size.
There are 3000 farmers in Israel whose income is solely based on farming and who obey the laws of the sabbatical year (schmita). In the merit of their complete emuna may all of Israel have an abundance of sustenance this year, 5775. Amen.
Every blessing for the new year,
Dr. Zev Ballen