You Say Tomato, I say Hamas

As has been widely reported over the past few days, for the first time in eight years, Israel will begin to import vegetables from Hamas-controlled Gaza. The reason for this is that there are some who live in Israel who are unwilling to eat from some of the vegetables found in Israel. A brief explanation as to why that is, is in order.

This is a Shemitta year; a year in which the land is to lay fallow and not to be worked. Over the years, there have been a few avenues used to have vegetables (and fruit) in such a year. One area entails raising produce in accordance with strict Halachik guidelines which provide us with what is known as Kedushat Shvi’it produce. (This produce has a series of rules-of-use that come with it and contains a level of “holiness” to the food). Another possibility to eat produce grown this year in Israel is the Heter Mechira. This is a Halachikally-based legal action that land is sold to a non-Jew, whereby the produce does not have those same restrictions referred to above. One other possibility (although there are other possibilities beyond the scope of this post), is purchasing imported produce, thereby avoiding the entire issue of Shemitta altogether.

I personally prefer Kedushat Shviit produce on so many levels; especially as it is considered by some to be a Mitzva to eat such food. I will also eat food that is Heter Mechira produce. In both cases you are supporting Israeli farmers. There are those who will shun ANY of these foods (Heter Mechira and/or Kedushat Shviit) for various reasons (that you are welcome to search for online). Instead, they insist on eating foods that come from outside of Israel.

And it is at this point, the original news story mentioned at the beginning of this post becomes relevant.

Rather than rely on a Jewish legal opinion (G-d forbid) of poskim like Rav Ovadiah Yosef zt”l, that one may eat Heter Mechira produce, there are those who now choose to purchase vegetables from Hamas-controlled Gaza. By doing so, by NOT supporting Israeli farmers; by not using “regular” imported food; by purchasing food from Hamas-controlled Gaza, these individuals are contributing to the coffers of the enemy,–AT LEAST indirectly.

These same individuals are willing to keep Chametz in their home during Pesach after selling it to a non-Jew and use a Halachik-legal mechanism established to avoid having to remove all of the Chametz before Passover. Yet, they choose to not rely on the Heter Mechira and prefer to purchase their vegetables from a population that supports and funds terror tunnels and missiles. And this is sadly referred to as “Shemitta Lemehadrin” !

Personally, I would never eat such produce nor allow it into my home. If there is even the slightest chance that the shekel spent on those vegetables went to a farmer who is in bed with Hamas, I will gladly skip that and find other produce.

About the Author
After living in Chicago for 50 years, the last 10 of which Zev Shandalov served as a shul Rav and teacher in local Orthodox schools, his family made Aliya to Maale Adumim in July 2009. Shandalov currently works as a teacher, mostly interacting with individual students.