Monday, August 27, 2007

Kol Koreh Against Heter Mechira

Yeshiva World is reporting that Rav Eliyashiv (and others) has signed a Kol Koreh against the use of a Heter Mechira (temporarily selling land in Israel to a non-Jew) in the coming Shvi'is year. As per YW:

The Kol Koreh states that the Heter Mechira leads to the desecration of the “holy and precious” Mitzvah of Shmita.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that I don't have the scholarship to know whether the Heter Mechira is a "solid" heter, or if the use of it should really be abandoned. However, one thing is clear, Rav Eliyashiv believes that we should not use the heter and keep the mitzvah of shvi'is (not working the land in the sabbatical year).

My question is this -- if using a Heter Mechira leads to the "desecration of the holy and precious mitzvah" of shvi'is, why doesn't the use of a prozbul lead to the "desecration of the holy and precious" of the mitzvah of shmitas k'safim (cancellation of debts)?

The Wolf


rescue37 said...

Does the Heter Mechirah go back as far as the pruzbul (Wasn't it from Hillel who was a Tana). The little that I know about the heter mechira is that it is a recent addition to the heterim. If in the time of the Mishna and the Gemara where the heter mechira would have probably been more important and life saving than nowadays they didn't institute it, why institute it now (i.e. within the last 100 years or so).

BrooklynWolf said...

Certainly the concept of a prozbol goes back *much* further than the Heter Mechirah. No question about it.

My question is this -- it seems to me from Rav Eliyashiv's statement (and yes, I may be reading more into it than is actually there -- let me know what you think) that using the Heter Mechira is wrong because it allows us to "avoid" the mitzvah and not keep it properly. If that's so, then why is there no similar outcry regarding the prozbol? The fact that the workaround is of far greater antiquity doesn't really change the main point of it -- to allow us to "get around" the "problem" of shmitas k'safim.

The Wolf

daat y said...

Great point.
R..Ariel and other Gedolim disagree.R.Ariel should have been Chief Rabbi but was maneuvered out of the position by R.Elyashiv.The Charedim this year are buying from Hamas in Gaza.

mother in israel said...

Because the heter mechirah is a "zionist" invention, it must be violently opposed. A better analogy is mechirat chametz.

BrooklynWolf said...

Eeees said the same thing to me last night (that mechiras chametz was a better analogy).

Nonetheless, I chose shmitas k'safim because it, like not working the land, involves the seventh year and the two mitzvos are often linked.

The Wolf

Anonymous said...

As you said- "I don't have the scholarhip." I will not explain the halacha here.
The pruzbul was invented by the tanna Hillel as recorded in the mishna in Gitten. The heter mechirah was an attempt by well meaning rabbonim to find a halachik "loophole". It was not accepted by the vast majority of rabbonim from its inception in the 1880s. Rav Kook zt"l did not rely on the heter for his personal use. In his collected letters he calls it a heter of "dechak." Rav Elyashiv is not saying anything new!! There is NO question that Rav Kook himself would not use the heter today.
Today the world is small. Israel could import everything from abroad (if the govornment would allow it). We also have otsar beis din.
I find that the national-religious throw stones at the charadim as if it's a purely political issue. The truth is just the opposite. They have jumped upon a political bandwagon and have vilified those that keep the halacha. Don't you think if it could be kept in the late 19th century, it can be kept k'dat v'kadin in the 21st century?
The punishment for not keeping shmitta is golus-exile from Eretz Yisrael!! Why were we thrown out of gush Katif, r"l? The charedim are not responsible for doing aveiros that cause exile chas v'shalom!! Wake up and strengthen our hold on Eretz Yisrael by observing all of the mitzvos hateluyos ba'aretz lechatchila.

daat y said...

Why were we thrown out of Gush Katif?Has God spoken to you lately and told you?

Anonymous said...

The mishna in pirkei Avot says that galut is a result of not keeping shmitta. No one knows exactly what Hasem's plan is. However, it makes sense to be very careful with this mitzva if we truely care about Eretz Yisrael.

rescue37 said...

The answer may be that Shemitas kesafim is just aas much a desicration as the heter mechirah is. The difference is that Hillel saw that nobody was lending money (which I believe is a mitzvah unto itself under helping poor people) and decided that it is better to "desicrate" the shmittah so at least other mitzvos will be kept. As opposed to the heter mechirah where there are other viable options, and poeple are not refraining from doing a seperate mitzvah if it is not in place.

Miriam said...

Hey Anon 9:25: Why'd ya have to be anonymous! such an interesting point. (okay, withdrawing back into the background.zzzzzzip)

TheAnswer said...

I heard that R. Heinemann from Baltimore said the following:
Because selling land in E"Y to a non-Jew is forbidden according to the Torah, when the farmer appoints to Rabbi to sell his land, it will not work based on the principle of "Ein Shliach L'dvar Aveirah" - a Shliach does not work for a sinful transaction. If the sale does not go through, then the land actually still belongs to the Jewish farmer and he is selling Shmita produce.

Obviously others disagree on this, holding there is a great necessity to sell then land and the sale does go through.

This is entirely different from Pruzbol where you are giving the responsibility of the loan contract to the Beis Din for the Shmitah year. This happens before Shmita where there is no sin involved and before the loan is canceled. Selling Chometz also occurs before Pesach and no sin is involved. But selling land in E"Y itself is a sin no matter when you do it.

Zach Kessin said...

I will admit to being a cynic, but part of me wonders if this has anything to do with the fact that almost no farmers are Haredi, and therefore the communities to which the rabbinute feels obligated will not be hurt by this.

Speaking as an Israeli it feels more and more like the rabbinute is responsible only to the Haredi community from which the chief rabbis are drawn.

Eugene said...

It is ridiculous that Shmita brings huge income to Israeli enemies in Gaza and the Palestinian territories. Whatever are the religious overtones, they cannot excuse purchases from HAMAS voters. What do you think of Obadiah Shoher interpretating Shmita as charity obligation rather than agricultural rule? (Here, for example ) Anyway, I'll better buy from atheist kibbutzim than from Gaza.