Shmita is... Mindfulness    Wisdom   Tradition Contemplation

Texts and Essays

Text, essays, videos, and audio relating to parshat Behar and shmita from our friends and partners at 929.
(NeoHasid.org): Explore the connection between the covenant of Shmita and the covenant of the Rainbow, given to humanity when Noah and his family left the ark, after the flood waters receded. Both covenants frame sacred relationships between humans, animals, and earth.
Part of Shmita Project Northwest's speaker series. Join Nigel Savage, founder and CEO of Hazon, for a creative and engaging learning experience examining core texts of Shmita and how they relate to our lives today. We’ll take a look at this ancient tradition through a new lens and invite attendees to think creatively about their own interactions with Jewish tradition through the Shmita Prizes.
This is an article written by Yigal Deutscher for Tikkun magazine, visioning Shmita as a holistic cultural blueprint for creating resilient communities.
(Neohasid.org): An exploration of early biblical texts, such as the creation story, the fall from Eden, and the flood as a way to understand the deeper meaning and eternal covenant of the Shmita tradition.
This essay by Rabbi David Seidenberg, first printed in Tikkun magazine in 2008, explores how the Jubilee and our connection to land, in particular, can help to reframe our human role in the ecology of life and our relationship to earth.
(Jewish Farm School): Foundational teachings of Judaism for the ethics and values of sustainability, as rooted in the creation story, the building of the Mishkan, and the paradigm of Shmita.
Rabbi Micha Odenheimer calls attention to the potency and profound need of Shmita, and challenges us to begin exploring this vision however we can, as an offering to the world.
Just as the Torah is a guidebook on mending the relationships between men and women, sibling and sibling, nation and nation, so too, the Torah contains within it commandments whose aim is to heal the brokenness in humanity’s relationship to the Earth. Shmita, the sabbatical year, comprises a number of the 613 commandments (mitzvot) of the Torah.[3] With today’s environmental challenges, these mitzvot may be more relevant and needed today than at any time in Jewish and world history. Posted as part of Jewcology's "Year of Jewish Learning on the Environment," in partnership with Canfei Nesharim.
(The Shalom Center): A call to action and resource guide to support individuals and communities moving their money away from economic institutions- banks and businesses- that do not support the Shmita values of local, mutually-supportive, and ecologically-healthy economies.
Vayikra (Leviticus) 25:1-7, 18-21
The Year of Release, or Shmita, is a practice rooted in Torah and halachically required only in the Land of Israel. However, as many aspects of the world are under increasing stress from large forces, including a rapidly changing climate and profound wealth inequality, texts surrounding Shmita offer the possibility that a different path forward is possible. How could a seven-year cycle encompassing growth but also rest and release help bring balance and renewal into our relationships with the Earth and one another? And have we learned anything important letting go from the global pandemic of 2020? Come learn about the wisdom of Shmita, and be inspired to explore ways large and small to bring Shmita into your life and community next year, and for the seven-year Shmita cycle ahead.
This essay by Rabbi Jeremy Benstein is an exploration of the idea and concept of ‘sustainability’, deepening this worldview by linking it with cycles of time, cycles of renewal, and Shmita.
A personal reflection on the values of the Sabbatical concept from the Israeli ambassador to the UK, Daniel Taub.
An excerpt from Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s beautiful, timeless poetic exploration of the gift of Shabbat.
Rav Kook's Introduction to Shabbat Ha'Aretz is the first-ever English translation of the introduction to a book on shmita (Biblical sabbatical year) by Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of the land of Israel in the 20th century. His essay, written in 1909, is lyrical and mystical, a meditation on the big themes that underlie religious environmentalism.
Rabbi Dani Passow offers a glimpse into the sacred practice of rest and how integral this is to a holistic relationship with Torah
A festive meal to honor and celebrate the food traditions of the Sabbatical Year
Jewish observance of shmita (alternatively spelled shemitah)—the sabbatical year, or seventh (sheviit) year—is changing. Historically rooted in agriculture, modern Jewish environmentalists are seizing upon the long-ignored environmental and social justice (tikkun olam) aspects of shmita as originally described in the five books of Moses, the Torah in the Hebrew Bible, the basis of Jewish law.
Published by E-Jewish Philanthropy, this article offers seven points for funders to consider in creating philanthropic models inspired by Shmita values.
This essay explores the possibility that perhaps the whole purpose of the Covenant at Sinai was to create a society that observed Shmita, and that Shmita creates the possibility to bring the world back into an Edenic harmony.
This short article by Rabbi Jeremy Benstein is a glimpse into a chapter about Shmita Rabbi Benstein has written in his book, The Way into Judaism and the Environment (Jewish Lights Publishing, 2006)
The Shmita Sourcebook is designed to encourage participants to think critically about the Shmita Cycle – its values, challenges, and opportunities – and how this tradition might be applied in a modern context to support building healthier and more sustainable Jewish communities today.
Theodor Herzl said that if you will it, it is no dream. What our Earth looks like in the next yovel, or jubilee, year will not happen by accident. Whether our Earth continues to heat up or whether we stem the tide isn’t predetermined — it’s actually up to us. While our present is what we make of it, our future, as Herzl taught us, will be what we make it to be. By our next yovel, if we choose, we can let climate change become the biggest problem ever faced in human history, or we can deal with it and assign it to the dustbin of history. The choice is ours.
This essay offers an in-depth mystical reading of the Shmita Cycle from within the spiritual Torah perspective (exerpt from Rabbi Avraham Arieh Trugman’s book on the weekly Torah readings, Orchard of Delights)
Rabbi Shai Held joined Shmita Project Northwest on 4/13/21 to discuss the Book of Devarim (Deuteronomy). Despite our usual associations of Shemitah (the Sabbatical year) with land, Shemitah in Devarim is about something else: It is a year for remitting debts and liberating slaves. In this session, we’ll do a close reading of Devarim 15, and explore such questions as: What kind of social ethic does Devarim seek to instill? How does it work to ensure that there will be no permanent underclass in the land of Israel? What strategies does it use to motivate people to treat one another generously? Along the way, we’ll see how Devarim radicalizes the social vision of Shemot (Exodus).
This is a chapter from Rabbi Arthur Waskow’s book, Godwrestling: Round 2, published by Jewish Lights in 1986.
This collection of sources was prepared to accompany a class that was part of the series Understanding Shmita, presented by Hazon and 929 English.
Join Rabbis Avram Reisner and Nina Beth Cardin to learn about the most important mitzvah you never heard of: yishuv ha-olam, the command to sustain the world. Underlying many of the 613 commandments is the call to sustain a healthy, regenerative world. This is the imperative of yishuv ha-olam – establishing and supporting a livable world. Yishuv ha-olam is a call from our tradition that speaks to the urgency of the moment we find ourselves in today. We will explore texts that teach us about this mitzvah and talk about how we must live out its imperative today.