King David says in Tehillim (103:20), “Those mighty/heroes in strength, who perform his words”. Who is the mighty, who is the hero, which King David refers to? Our Sages explain that it is those who keep shmita.
One may wonder why those who keep shmita are relegated to hero status in the eyes of G-d? What is so challenging about this mitzvah that makes those who adhere to it mighty?
Abandoning your only source of income for a full year, and trusting that all will work out well in the end. Most would find even the thought of this predicament impossible to embrace and extremely challenging, to say the least.
This is the demand that the commandment of shmita, not working the land in the seventh year, requires of those who keep it. It is this mitzvah, and all mitzvoth connected to the land of Israel, that Shiloh winery under the leadership of Amichai Louria embrace.
Our Sages explain that one of the reasons the Jews were evicted from the land of Israel and placed into exile was due to not keeping shmita. “Now that we are back in Eretz Yisrael and we paid so terribly for not keeping shmita,” shares Amicahai, “how could we not keep it today?” The most amazing thing to consider, moreover, is the reward promised to those who do keep shmita.
In Parshat Vayikra 25:21 it states “vitziviti et birchati lachem, beshanah hashisit” (‘Then I will command my blessings upon you in the sixth year.’) To believe that G-d’s promises will be fulfilled, and to put one’s livelihood on the line for it, takes an authentic and rare kind of trust in G-d. This dedication to keep the mitzvoth is rewarded with a blessing that the sixth year of the shmita cycle will bring extra blessings and a bountiful harvest to ease the way into that challenging seventh year. Keeping shmita, is the kind of declaration of faith that can’t help but attract attention—and make a tremendous Kiddush HaShem.
Making a Kiddush HaShem and embracing the mitzvoth connected to the land of Israel is the core belief that propels and inspires Shiloh winery.
It is this philosophy that inspired a brilliant new wine collection, Shiloh 6th Year Harvest, Heroes Edition. Those who observe shmita are considered heroes in the eyes of G-d—inspired by this, the Heroes Edition wines celebrate three vineyards who in fact, allowed their land to lay fallow for an entire year.
Yehoshofat Tor of Yehoshofat Vineyard in Maon Farm, located in hills of South Hebron, Ariel ben Shetreet of Ariel Vineyard in Yitzhar, and Abraham Ran of Abraham Vineyard in Givat Olam Farm, both in Northern Samaria, are the three modern-day heroes celebrated in Shiloh’s Heroes collection. These three vintners, equally dedicated to the practice of shmita and to producing superb wines, worked with Louria to create this uniquely meaningful collection, produced in 2014, the year before the past shmita cycle began. All three of these winegrowers, with complete trust in G-d, left their vineyards untouched during the shmita year (2015).
This undertaking is a tremendous Kiddush HaShem as the winemaking process takes two years and during that time there is no way to know how the wine will turn out and what the results would be. Although Amicahi Louria is known as a master blender, he shares that the single vineyard cabernets from the shmita vineyards were special and unique in their own way. Amichai relates how there was little left for him to do. From the first step of picking the grapes to the final bottling process, the uniqueness of these grapes stood out. The blessings promised were blessings Amichai was able to witness coming to fruition; proving that there truly is a unique blessing in the grapes grown in the sixth year.
This message is clear in the unique packaging of the Heroes Edition. The three single vineyard cabernets are sold as a set for comparison and tasting, in packaging that relays the message and story of the heroes living among us. The words of Torah written on the wine bottles and packaging labels will inspire great conversations wherever it is served. As the wines age, they will continue to develop nuance and character, bringing the seven-year cycle of Israeli agricultural to life in a tangible way for Jewish families around the world.
When considering wine for Shabbat, holidays, bar mitzvoth, and weddings, using a wine that embodies the spirituality of the land of Israel, (through the mitzvoth of shmita, ma’aser ani and ma’aser levi) one that has come into being through an act of pure faith, adds a one-of-a-kind spiritual dimension to what is already just a great-tasting wine.