Israel and Jordan sign agricultural agreement ahead of Sabbatical year

“Shmita” is the Biblical commandment for the land of Israel to lie fallow every seven years.

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

Israel and Jordan signed an agreement to boost agricultural cooperation and sales ahead of the approaching Jewish sabbatical year.

“Shmita,” as it is referred to in Hebrew, is the Biblical commandment for the land of Israel to lie fallow every seven years, a year of agricultural rest. Jewish farmers who don’t observe shmita risk losing kosher certification for their produce.

The observance of shmita begins on Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish new year, which this year falls on the evening of Monday, September 6.

Produce grown in Israel during the year of Shmita is considered to have a heightened degree of holiness which remains even after the Sabbatical year ends. This can raise problems for kosher food manufacturers.

While many Jewish farmers  observe the Sabbatical year, others rely on rabbinical rulings to symbolically sell their land to a gentile.

Agricultural minister Oded Forer and his Jordanian counterpart, Rasan al-Majali, met on the Allenby Bridge between the two countries to sign the agreement.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry said the agreement will prioritize Jordanian agricultural imports “to attend to the observant population in Israel on the one hand, as well as implement the benefits [to Jordan] stipulated in the trade agreement.” The Ministry added that the agreement allows Israel to diversify its sources of produce.