This mitzvah created a dilemma for the early pioneers in Eretz Yisrael, whose livelihood depended on agriculture. Rabbi A.I. Hacohen Kook came to their aid by creating his famous "Heter Mechira" ruling, which gave the early pioneers a halachicly permissible way to continue tilling the soil during the Shmita year. The anti-Zionist Haredi community in Eretz Yisrael at that time refused to accept Rabbi Kook's ruling, and still today, will only buy Arab grown produce during the Shmita year.
This year Otzar Haaretz will be supplying fresh produce to over 120 stores across all of Israel. Amir Dror-Fogelman,the CEO of Otzar Haaretz and graduate of YBA Yad Avraham in Netanya says, "I believe that, b'ezrat Hashem, the extensive preparations we have invested in for the coming Shmita year will be successful, and that every Jew in Eretz Yisrael will be able to keep the mitzvah of Shmita in accordance with halacha. It is important to prove, first and foremost to ourselves, that we have the where with all and ability to serve the entire public on a national scale."
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