Weekly Chasidic Story #702 (s5771-36 / 7 Iyar 5771)

Two Gold Medals and One Silver

Hundreds watched in astonishment as the man with the beard and long sidelocks hesitantly ascended the podium.


Connection: Weekly Reading – The Sabbatical Year



The aristocratic atmosphere in the elegant hotel that hosted Israel’s wine competition did not disclose the scene that was about to take place: A small boutique winery, Hararai Kedem, won two gold medals and one silver medal. Hundreds of professional and amateur sommeliers watched in astonishment as the man with the beard and long sidelocks — who did not look particularly relevant to the glamorous event — hesitantly ascended the podium to accept his medals.

“There are two factors in this achievement,” said Ariel. “The first is that our vineyard is located in the blessed Biblical inheritance of Joseph. The second is that we fulfilled the laws of the Shmitah year. We simply did not attend to the vineyard, as dictated by the Torah, and didn’t take finances into account.”

Ariel thankfully accepted his medals and walked off the stage. His award-winning wines were produced from the grapes of the sixth year of the seven year Shmitah cycle. The experts told him that if he would not prune his vines during the Shmitah year, his entire vineyard would collapse. But just the opposite occurred – precisely what the Torah promises to the Jews who fulfill the laws of Shmitah: “And I will give you my blessing in the sixth year and it will make produce for three years.” (Leviticus 25:3). In the sixth year of the seven year cycle, Ariel’s vineyard produced more than three times its annual average. Usually, quantity reduces the quality of the grapes. But in Ariel’s case, both quantity and quality were extraordinary, as attested to by the medals.

At the beginning of the Shmitah year, Ariel divided his time between the permissible tasks in his vineyard and a strictly Jewish construction company that he had established. One of the major projects built by the company was the beautiful synagogue and yeshiva perched on a ridge overlooking his vineyard. The building permits were issued eleven years ago and the Housing Ministry even helped with some partial funding for the project. But the majority of the funding was from donations, while the building was painstakingly erected — stone by stone — by Ariel and his friends.

Ariel thought that during the Shmitah year, he would divert most of his energies from agriculture to construction. But a work accident forced him to change his plans. “I guess that our Father in heaven wants me to learn Torah during theShmitah year,” he said with a smile. When he was released from the hospital he joined the many young men learning Torah in the new study hall.

You may want to know where you can find more people like Ariel. I’m sorry to ruin your preconceptions, but in complete contrast to the Israeli media brainwashing and government policies, the place that you can find Ariel and other dedicated lovers of the Land like him is in Yitzhar, an important but persecuted settlement in the Shimron (Samaria).


[Source: Adapted from a recent issue of “The Jewish Leadership” Newsletter, where it was translated from the NRG website — 3 Sivan, 5770 / May 16, ’10]

Connection: Weekly Reading – The Sabbatical Year

Moshe Feiglin is the leader of the Jewish Leadership faction of the Likud party in Israel <>.



Yerachmiel Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and chief editor of this website (and of He has hundreds of published stories to his credit, and many have been translated into other languages. He tells them live at Ascent nearly every Saturday night.

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