Torah VeHa’aretz Institute (the Institute for Torah and the Land of Israel) engages in research, public education, and the application of contemporary halachic issues that come to the fore in the bond between Torah and the Land of Israel today. At the crux of this bond are the mitzvot hateluyot ba’aretz, the mitzvot associated with the Land of Israel, which have become an integral part of our national life ever since the return of the Jewish People to its homeland. At Torah VeHa’aretz Institute, rabbis and agronomists collaborate to probe the halachic issues surrounding these special mitzvot, develop cutting-edge methods to apply them in our modern world, and educate the public on the topic.
The dizzying pace of innovation in modern life raises many topics that have not been studied in the past regarding the unique interface between Torah and various areas in individual and public life. Torah VeHa’aretz Institute takes an active role in nation’s technological, social, and spiritual development, publishing articles, halachic treatises, and studies on diverse innovations. Our website features various topics discussed in the public discourse. Torah VeHa’aretz Institute also creates curricula and educational materials about various topics in Judaism, and collaborates with Torah research institutes that specialize in other areas on diverse initiatives. All of this is done to provide halachic solutions to the new issues that arise in the field.
Torah VeHa’aretz Institute was founded in 5746 (1986) in Kfar Darom, a settlement of Gush Katif. Following the Disengagement in 5765 (2005), Torah VeHa’aretz Institute continued operations temporarily in Ashkelon until 5774 (2014). Afterwards it moved to a temporary structure in Shavei Darom, a new development in the Western Negev founded by the former Kfar Darom residents. Torah VeHa’aretz Institute hopes to eventually move into a final structure there.
Torah VeHa’aretz Institute boasts a unique multidisciplinary team of erudite Torah scholars and leading agronomists. Together, they collaborate to find solutions for issues regarding halacha, technology, and agriculture. Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, president of Torah VeHa’aretz Institute, former rabbi of Ramat Gan, is considered one of the prominent spiritual leaders across the spectrum of Israeli society. Torah VeHa’aretz Institute is headed by Rabbi Yigal Kaminetsky, former rabbi of the Gush Katif Gaza Strip region; currently rosh yeshiva of the Nitzan advanced yeshiva. Rabbi Yehuda Amichay, a prominent Torah scholar, heads the Halacha Research Unit. Agronomist Dr. Mordechai Shomron heads the Agricultural R&D Unit.
Rabbis of the Institute
Rabbi Yehuda HaLevy Amichay
Head of the Halacha Research Unit at the Torah VeHa'aretz Institute
Rabbi Yaakov Ariel
President of the Torah VeHa'aretz Institute
Rabbi Yigal Kaminetzki
Chairman of the Torah VeHa'aretz Institute
Rabbi David Eigner
Torah scholar of the Torah VeHa'aretz Institute. Specializes in various fields of farming and livestock. Author of the pamphlet Halachot Gidul Tzon (Laws of Raising Sheep).
Rabbi Netanel Oyerbach
Torah scholar at the Halacha Research Unit of the Torah VeHa'aretz Institute.
Dr. Mordechai Shomron
Chair of the Agricultural Research and Development Unit of the Torah VeHa'aretz Institute.
Rabbi Yoel Friedemann
Torah scholar and lecturer at the Torah VeHa'aretz Institute, editor of the Institute’s books and of the Emunat Itecha periodical.
Rabbi Avraham Sochovolsky
Torah scholar at the Halacha Research Unit of the Torah VeHa'aretz Institute. Involved for many years in writing about the mitzvot associated with the Land of Israel.
Lectures at the Mobile Learning Center, gives over educational presentations about the Land of Israel, Kfar Darom and Gush Katif, pidyon shevuyim, and the Jonathan Pollard affair.
Rabbi Ehud Ahituv
Torah scholar at the Halacha Research Unit of the Torah VeHa'aretz Institute, manager of its Beit HaOtzar program.
Rabbi Moshe Bloom
Lecturer and chairman of the English Department at Torah VeHa'aretz Institute.
Rabbi Itzhak Dvir
Rabbi Dvir, resident of Elon Moreh, serves as a community rabbi and is certified as a rabbi of a city by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.
Resides in the Shavei Darom. Studied in yeshivat Birkat Yosef in Alon Moreh. BSc in Soil and Water studies at the Faculty of Agriculture in the Hebrew University (Rechovot branch). His MSc in orchard fertilization he received in the Hebrew University (Rechovot). Today he serves as an agronomist for Torah VeHa'aretz Institute and Chalasat-Alei Katif. He guides farmers and is involved in agricultural R&D.
Rabbi Avraham Ahituv
Resides in Shavei Darom, originally from Neve Dekalim of Gush Katif. followed by nine years in Har Hamor. He then studied dayanut (rabbinical court judge) for eight years at Bene David Institute of Pesagot.
Torah VeHa’aretz Institute recently opened an English department to meet the needs of English speakers living in Israel and abroad. Knowledge and awareness of the mitzvot hateluyot ba’aretz, mitzvot associated with the Land of Israel, is relatively low among English speakers since most grew up abroad where the majority of these mitzvot do not apply. Moreover, there is a serious scarcity of material available in English about the practical application of these mitzvot in Israel today.
This is where we come in: the English department translates halachic material into English and posts it on the English website, features lectures in English about mitzvot associated with the Land of Israel, provides Ask the Rabbi Q&A services, organizes halachic-agricultural tours, and issues various publications in English, among other things. Rabbi Moshe Bloom is the head of the English department.