1. Vision for a Just Society
This is the first introduction to Shmita in the Torah, and it comes in Parshat Mishpatim, which presents a set of moral codes to live by, received directly after the revelation at Sinai. This excerpt shows verses 6-11.
Questions for Discussion:
- Why might shmita be included in a list of protocols for a just society?
- What does it have in common with the other commandments listed here?
- If your life is not directly agricultural, what might be the 'perennials' (reappearing every year) and 'annuals' (planted each year) in your life? What can you count on, and what is passing or dependent upon your effort?
2. A Sacred Pause
“Our mundane social lives, with their toil, anxiety, anger, and competition do not entirely suffocate this creative force. On the Shmita [year], our pure, inner spirit may be revealed as it truly is. The forcefulness that is inevitably a part of our regular, public lives lessens our moral refinement. There is always a tension between the ideal of listening to the voice inside us that calls us to be kind, truthful, and merciful, and the conflict, compulsion, and pressure to be unyielding that surround buying, selling, and acquiring things.”
- Rav Avraham Isaac Kook
The practice of shmita subverts capitalism. Has the COVID19 pandemic enabled you pause or vision beyond business-as-usual capitalism? Have you been able to connect with your "pure, inner spirit"?
- What are we practicing and learning in the pandemic that might support us in engaging with shmita?
- After the pandemic in years 5 and 6, do we still need a shmita year? What might we need from it?
|Tishm’tena U'nitashta||Release & Lie Fallow,
Let It Go & Let It Be
|שַׁבָּ֖ת לַיהוָֽה||Shabbat Lado’nay||Shabbat for God||Leviticus 25.1|
|שַׁבַּ֤ת שַׁבָּתוֹן֙||Shabbat Shabbaton||Shabbat of Shabbats||Leviticus 25.4|
|שַׁבַּ֨ת הָאָ֤רֶץ||Shabbat Ha’aretz||Shabbat of the Land||Leviticus 25.6|
|שְׁמִטָּֽה||Shmita||Release, Remission||Deuteronomy 15.1|