Sep 11, 2007

Selling the Land of Israel

I have not yet written anything on the shmitta situation and controversy and am still not going to. I am very unclear on the whole thing and am therefore not writing anything on the topic until I figure things out better.

This post is shmitta related, but is not a "shmitta post".

The Rabbanut still, despite much controversy recently, approves of use of the "hetter mechira" which is basically a land sale of the Land of Israel to a non-Jew in order to allow Jewish farmers to continue working the land during the shmitta year.

Yesterday was the ceremony of the sale. Agriculture Minister Shalom Simchon sold the land to Colonel (res.) Hamada Ganem of Mgrhar (a non-Jew) for a grand total of 70 billion shekels!!!

A group of private farmers sold additional lands to Ganem for another 1.5 billion shekels.

He gave two post-dated checks for those amounts (one for 70 billion and one for 1.5 billion).

Two points:

1. Simchon made a big mistake in running the sale of the land. Had he let Olmert run it, with all his real estate experience, I am pretty sure Olmert would have garnered a much higher price out of Ganem.

2. I wonder what that is like. Writing a 70 billion shekel check. How do you go into a bank to deposit such a check? Can you use it at the local makolet to pay for milk and bread?


  1. how does the money work? The goy gives it back after the year is over?

  2. yes. Unless the Saudis come and offer to back the check and he refuses to sell it back....

  3. B"H Don't even get me started on the whole heter mekirah thing! Oy! Now, I see Rav Lior of K4-Hevron has written something about it in this week's "b'Sheva," which I should probably read, as I respect his integrity, especially when make hallachic rulings. But, I digress, in a nutshell, my understanding is that the heter mekhirah c. 100 yrs. ago met various conditions related to economic desperation. Rav Kook ztz"l renewed it due to the same conditions and stated it needed to be reviewed every cycle, and not simple put into play if not necessary. Does EY look in economic desperation? I think not, but like you suggested, there is certainly more worth learning regarding this topic.


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