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Shmitta – More than a fifth


There’s a big push now for people to donate to the farmers who will be keeping Shmitta in a few months and it got me wondering. We know that one is not allowed to give more than a fifth of his wealth to use for Mitzvos because it may make him needy. But Shmitta seems to go exactly against this concept. Here we have a farmer that keeping Shmitta is making him take money from Tzedaka. How do we reconcile these two Halachos/Mitzvos?



Thank you for your question.

You are asking an interesting question, and I am sure there must be numerous answers to this, however here is one that would seem fundamental. The Rema O:CH 556 says that the idea that we are not obligated to give more than a fifth of our money is only for a positive commandment, however regarding violating a negative commandment, which involves doing an action, for that one is obligated to give all his money for it. This is learned from the verse that we say each day in shema, and you should love Hashem… with all your money (Also see Levush). The mitzva of shmitta involves numerous negative commandments (not planting, plowing, harvesting) as well as positive ones. Therefore, the obligation applies even to more than a fifth of one’s finances.



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