Otzar Ha'aretz membership during the shemitah year
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Is there an advantage to have membership in Otzar Ha'aretz (besides the important financial support) for the issue of transacting with shemitah produce?
Otzar beit din is an establishment mentioned by the Tosefta, which discusses the rabbinical court of the city. In that time, every city had its own rabbinical court, giving the court a status of a public municipal organization. Today the situation is different – there is no beit din of a particular city also responsible for the agricultural areas (which are not near the cities). For this reason, today we establish a rabbinical court responsible for all people who want the court to provide them with food during the shemitah year. This court can hire workers to bring merchandise to people who are members of the court (just as in the past the court was responsible for people of its city). Therefore, being a member is tantamount to appointing the rabbinical court to take care of the shemitah produce on your behalf. While those who are not members can also partake of the shemitah produce, lechatchilah, it is best to be a member of the beit din.