The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 17 November 2007 / 7 Kislev 5768

A Prize Peck of Peppers

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
A non-observant pepper farmer in the south of Israel developed an interest in the Torah command to refrain from agricultural labor during the Shemitah year. Although they were not Sabbath observant he and his family could take some time on the Day of Rest to read some passages from the Torah. When they came across the promise given by G-d to bless those who take a seventh year "Sabbatical" from agricultural labor with a bumper crop in the sixth year, they were intrigued. The farmer's wife is a mathematician and she quickly decided to make a calculation of their sixth year harvest as compared to previous years. To the surprise of all, their fields had yielded twice as much that year than usual.

Thus reassured, the farmer planned to come to Jerusalem and consult with rabbinical authorities on how to properly observe the Shemitah laws. Then came the next surprise. The main market for his pepper is Spain and he faces stiff competition from another pepper exporter for this choice market. No sooner had the decision been made to observe Shemitah then our farmer got a telephone call from the Spanish importer.

"Send me all the peppers you have," he said. 'Your competitor's pepper crop was ruined by a dangerous insecticide and since you are my only source I am willing to pay you five times the regular price if you let me have your entire crop."

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