An Israeli company has found a way of circumventing a religious injunction to let agricultural land lie fallow: fake soil. Yediot Achronot reported Monday that the company, Hishtil, has begun importing ground coconut peels from India, which can serve as substitute soil for religiously observant Jews who mark the shmitta year that begins on Rosh Hashanah. Under the laws of shmitta, agricultural land in Israel must lie fallow every seventh year.Hishtil’s fake soil can be used to raise produce and flowers, and is designed to be used in suspended boxes whose detachment from the ground provides an additional degree of shmitta observance. Rabbi Yehuda Amihai of Israel’s Torah and Land Institute told Yediot that Hishtil’s initiative would meet the requirements of religious law.
Fake soil for shmitta