Sunday, September 02, 2007

We're on sabbatical

There is a fancy new apartment building under construction outside my (old) apartment here in Haifa. However, it is still very much under construction. Until very recently, the windows and doors were giant holes and interior had not progressed beyond bare concrete.

So it was weird when, on or around Tu Beav a few weeks ago, a truck arrived at the building site full of vegetation. When I walked by later that day, a nice row of trees had been planted in the front yard of the unfinished building. What were they doing landscaping the building now, when it was so far from completion?

A bit later I found out it was because of shemitah. The sabbatical year is next year, and it is forbidden to plant trees not only during that year, but for one month and two weeks beforehand (see Rambam Shmita+Yovel 3:11). Thus, Tu Beav is about the last day on which you can plant trees (draw from that whatever homiletical conclusions you desire). And the construction company was engaged in a mad rush to meet the deadline and get all its trees halachically planted now, not 13 months from now, which will be long after the tenants move in. Only in Israel!

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