Rabbi Shmuel Bloom of Agudath Israel of America is a very busy man involved in important matters concerning the public.
Why do you think he would spend many hours traveling to look at bananas in Israel (all the way up north near T'veriya (Tiberias) ?
A completely secular farmer whose produce is bananas decided that he would undertake to keep Shmitta (the Sabbatical Year) this time around. He approached the Keren HaShviis (the organization that helps facilitate this) for assistance and they stipulated that he would be registered in their program if he would also undertake to be personally Shomer Shabbos (Sabbath observant) throughout Shmitta. He agreed. Otzar Bet Din (Rabbinic court) of Bnei Brak undertook to cover his farming expenses in return for which all the produce would becomes the property of Otzar Beis Din (court) and would be distributed in full accordance with Halacha (Jewish Law).
Israel has suffered a significant cold spell over that winter for 2 to 3 weeks. Bananas don’t like cold and cold doesn’t like bananas. Needless to say, they don’t get along. When bananas are still growing and get hit with frost, they turn brown and become rock-solid hard.
The hero of our story, Gibor Koach the banana farmer, knew he was in deep trouble when the relentless cold hadn’t let up for over a week. He lived a distance from his orchard and hadn’t yet seen the damage with his own eyes. He began to receive calls from his neighbor farmers, who have orchards bordering his, complaining bitterly that their entire banana crop had been destroyed by the frost.
He decided it was time to inspect the damage up close, no matter how painful it may be.He drove up close to Tverya (Tiberius) to inspect his orchard, as well as those of his neighboring farmers. As he passed from one orchard to another, he was overwhelmed by the damage. Not a single fruit had survived, no tree was spared. His neighbors took quite a beating. All the bananas were brown, hard as a rock. He could only imagine how bad his trees must have gotten it.
Yet when he finally got to his orchard, he was awestruck! ALL of his bananas were yellow and green. It’s as if his orchard was not part of this parcel of land. His orchard bordered those of his neighbors, but not a single tree of his was struck by the frost. It’s as if a protective wall kept the damage away. At first he thought he was imagining it, and as he rushed from one section of his orchard to another, the realization that more than the farmer keeps the Shmitah, the Shmitah keeps the farmer hit home.
He immediately called his contacts at Keren HaShviis and yelled into the phone, “Karah Nes, Karah Nes!” (A miracle happened, a miracle happened!)
A miraculous modern-day manifestation of “V’Tzivisi Es HaBracha”. (I will ordain My blessing for you in the sixth year) There is no way to explain this other than that Hashem (G-d) keeps His promises. He says keep Shmitta, and I’ll take care of you. He sure does!!!
Keren HaShviis reports that farmers that until now refused to keep Shmitah, have been turning to the Keren following the losses suffered as a result of the frost, they are now ready to commit to Shmitah observance.
And so, Rabbi Bloom took the time to travel all the way to Tverya (Tiberias) and back to witness this awe-inspiring phenomenon.
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