name is Dov Weiss and I was part of the group of about thirty religious
young men that started the agricultural settlement Moshav Komemiyut,
in the South of Israel. It was in 1950, after we had completed our army service.
I was still a bachelor then. Among the founders was also the well known Torah
scholar and rabbinical authority, Rabbi Benyamin Mendelson, of blessed
memory. He had previously immigrated to Israel from Poland and had served as the
Rabbi of Kfar Ata.
At first we lived in tents, in the middle of a barren
wilderness. The nearest settlements to ours were several kibbutzim associated
with the left-wing Shomer Hatzair movement: Gat, Gilon, and Negvah. Several of
our members supported themselves by working at Kibbutz Gat, the closest to us,
doing different types of manual labor. Others worked in agriculture, planting
wheat, barley, rye and other grains and legumes. I myself drove a tractor. Our
produce, which grew throughout the 15,000 or so dunam [nearly 4000 acres] allotted
us, we sold to bakeries and factories.
At that time, there were not yet
water pipes reaching our moshav. We had to content ourselves with what
could be grown in dry rugged fields. Every few days we would make a trip to Kibbutz
Negvah, about 20 kilometers distant, to fill large containers with drinking water.
The second year we were there, 5711 on the Jewish calendar (Fall 1950-Summer
1951) was the Shmitah year which comes every seventh year, in which the
Torah commands to desist from all agricultural work (see Lev. 25:1-7). We were
among the very few settlements in Israel at the time to observe the laws of the
Sabbatical year and refrain from working the land. Instead, we concentrated on
building, and succeeded that year in completing much of the permanent housing.
The moshav gradually developed and expanded, and more and more families
moved in, as well as a number of young singles. By the end of the year we already
numbered around eighty people.
As the Sabbatical year drew to its completion,
we prepared to renew our farming activities. For this we required seed to sow
crops, but for this purpose we could only use wheat from the sixth year, the year
that preceded the Shmitah, for the produce of the Seventh Year is forbidden
for this type of use. We went around to all the agricultural settlements in the
area, near and far, seeking good quality seed from the previous year's harvest,
but no one could fulfill our request.
All we were able to find was some
old wormy seed that, for reasons that were never made clear to us, was laying
around in a storage shed in Kibbutz Gat. No farmer in his right mind anywhere
in the world would consider using such poor quality seed to plant with, not if
he expected to see any crops from it. The kibbutzniks at Gat all burst into loud
derisive laughter when we revealed that we were actually interested in this infested
grain that had been rotting away for a few years in some dark, murky corner.
you really want it, you can take all that you like, and for free, with our compliments,"
they offered in amusement.
We consulted with Rabbi Mendelson. His response
was: "Take it. The One who tells wheat to sprout from good seed can also
order it to grow from inferior wormy leftover seed as well."
case, we didn't have an alternative. So we loaded on a tractor all the old infested
seed that the kibbutz had offered to us free of charge and returned to Komemiyut.
The laws of Shmitah forbade us to plough and turn over the soil
till after Rosh HaShana, the beginning of the eighth year, so we didn't get to
actually sow the seed until the next month, Mar'cheshvan. This was two or three
months after all the other farmers had already completed their planting.
year, the rains were late in coming. The farmers from all the kibbutzim and moshavim
gazed upward longingly for the first rain. They began to feel desperate, but the
heavens were unresponsive, remaining breathlessly still and blue.
it rained. When? The day after we completed planting our thousand dunam of wheat
fields with those wormy seeds, the sky opened up and the rains exploded down to
saturate the parched earth.
The following days we were nervous in anticipation,
but we turned our attention to strengthening our faith and trust in G-d. Anyway,
it did not take a long time for the hand of the Al-mighty to be revealed clearly
to all. Those wheat fields that were planted during the Seventh Year, months before
the first rain, sprouted only small weak crops. At the same time, our fields,
sowed with the old infested seed and long after the appropriate season, were covered
with an unusually large and healthy yield of wheat, in comparison to any standard.
story of the "miracle at Komemiyut" spread quickly. Farmers from all
the agricultural settlements in the South came to see with their own eyes what
they could not believe when they heard the rumors about it.
When the farmers
from Kibbutz Gat arrived, they pulled a surprise on us. After looking in open-mouthed
astonishment at the impressive bountiful quantity of wheat flourishing in our
fields, grown from the infested seeds they had provided us, they decided to renege
on their generosity. They announced they wanted payment for the tractor load of
old rotten wheat they had scornfully given us for free only a short time before.
more startling: they said they would file a claim against us at beit din,
the rabbinical court, and with Rabbi Mendelson himself, no less! Probably they
figured that in a secular court such a claim wouldn't have even the slightest
possible chance of gaining them even a single penny.
Rabbi Mendelson accepted
their case seriously, and in the end judged that we should pay them. His explained
that the reason they gave it for free was because they thought it worthless for
planting, while in truth it really was excellent for that purpose. We were astonished
to hear his ruling, but needless to say, we complied.
The whole story became
an extraordinary kiddush Hashem, a glorification of G-d, in the eyes of
people throughout the country. Everyone agreed it was a clear fulfillment of G-d's
promise in the Torah:
And if you shall say, "What shall we eat
in the seventh year? Behold we shall not plant, nor harvest our produce!"
I will command my blessing to you
." [Lev. 25:20-21].
and freely adapted by Yrachmiel Tilles from Sichat HaShavua #721.]
If you are in Israel in the months before
Passover, an expedition to the Komemiyut matza bakery is worthwhile, even if only
to see, and the quality of their hand-made shmurah matza is famous worldwide.
Yrachmiel Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed,
and editor of Ascent Quarterly and the AscentOfSafed.com and KabbalaOnline.org
websites. He has hundreds of published stories to his credit.