“Good Shabbos, Boimelah.”
Received via e-mail from Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen:
On this Rosh Hashana, we begin the "Shmittah" – the Sabbatical Year! During this year, we are to allow the Land of Israel to experience its "Shabbos"! In the spirit of the approaching Shabbos of the Land, I would like to share with you the following story:
During the early days of the State of Israel, there was a beloved sage, Rabbi Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman, who was the founder and head of the Ponivez Yeshiva in Bnei Brak. Rabbi Kahaneman was aware of the difficulties facing those farmers who were striving to fully observe the Shmittah. On the eve of the Sabbatical Year, this sage traveled to Kibbutz Chafetz Chaim, a Chareidi kibbutz which was keeping the Shmittah laws, for he desired to strengthen the spirit of the farmers. He spoke to them about the holiness of this "Shabbos for Hashem" – a holiness which permeates each plant and each "boimelah" (an affectionate Yiddish term for a tree). As the Shmittah year was about to begin, he suggested that every farmer go over and wish a tree, "Good Shabbos, boimelah." He himself then kissed the earth and wished it a "Good Shabbos"!
The story about Rabbi Kahaneman appears in the book "Builders" by Chanoch Teller.