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Shemita Debate

 The Shemita Debate: Posters and Historical Documents

The David and Fela Shapell Family Digitization Project
 
“But during the seventh year, let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what is left. Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.”
(Exodus 23:11)

​Since the renewal of Jewish agricultural activity in the Land of Israel In the late 19th century, the question of Shemita – the Sabbatical year – has been the focus of a fierce debate among the religious authorities. Leading rabbis in the Land of Israel and in Europe were divided between those who proposed that land should be formally “sold” to non-Jews in order to enable farming to continue as normal (the “sale permit” approach), and those who demanded that Jewish agriculture cease operations during the Sabbatical year; agricultural produce would then be obtained from alternative sources, while farmers would receive compensation for suspending their work.

 

This argument, which resurges each time the Sabbatical year approaches, has been particularly evident in the public posters. We present here some examples of such posters, as well as other documents relating to the “Shemita debate” over the years. The material is drawn from the collections of the National Library of Israel, together with links to contemporary Hebrew-language newspapers.

 

This virtual exhibition is part of the David and Fela Shapell Family Digitization Project

The Digital Library
The Digital Library
Free access to thousands of scanned books, newspapers, manuscripts, maps, images, as well as hours of audio and video recordings
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Pashkevil Collection
Pashkevil Collection
The collection of pashkevils from the Meah Shearim neighborhood of Jerusalem includes items dating back to the 19th century, but well into the 21st century.
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