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.

( 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.

Resources from One Table to infused you Shabbat table with Shmita. Every seven days, we’re gifted the beautiful wellness ritual of Shabbat — a day to pause, relax, reflect, and rejuvenate. And, every seven years, we’re gifted Shmita — an entire “sabbatical” year where (biblically speaking) we are encouraged to let the agricultural land rest, free debts in society, and resolve any inequities that may have grown. It is (or could be) a year to restore. Starting on Rosh Hashanah this year (Sept. 6, 2021), think of it as Shabbat on the grandest scale and an opportunity for us to restore ourselves and the earth.

The practice of letting the land lie fallow after every six years of farming requires a complete reset in sustainable practices—and could gain traction as a way to combat climate change.

A reflection on shmita and COvid. Published on the eJewish Philanthropy Blog

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.

An essay by Rabbi Arthur Waskow that contextualizes Shmita in relation to other Jewish festivals, and deepens our connection with the natural world.

This is an article written by Yigal Deutscher for Tikkun magazine, visioning Shmita as a holistic cultural blueprint for creating resilient communities.

Through 60 pages of poetic visioning and illustrations, Yigal Deutscher weaves language and art into a Shmita dreamscape, exploring foundational questions: What is the deeper mythic symbolism of Shmita? What is the hidden invitation that Shmita offers us today, for our food, economic, and social systems? How can we begin designing to renew and reimagine Sabbatical Culture for our own communities? This booklet is a narrative of awakening, remembering, reclamation, and celebration; a blueprint for a more sacred, resilient, and holistic future. Included within is a collection of micro-essays and graphics inspired by the weaving together of Shmita, Jewish Mythology, and the tools of Permaculture Design.

The goal and purpose of the Torah covenant, for society as a whole, is that the Israelites will observe the Shmitah (Sabbatical) year, and that in doing so, they will repair the relationship with the Earth that was destroyed in the generations leading up to the flood. Essentially, the covenant with Abraham is meant to take one people and one land, and put them in a right relationship with each other, in order to create a model for how humanity should live. That model is found in the observance of Shmitah and the Jubilee.

( 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.

As Jews, we are instructed to give a portion of our resources to those in need every year. But every seventh year the Shmita year heralds a year of release for the land, along with the canceling of all debt. It also challenges and inspires us to approach how we share our financial resources in new ways. In this Shmita year of 2020–2021, let us lean into Jewish tradition’s powerful framework for thinking about wealth as abundant, inherently collective, and transformative.

This coming Jewish year is a shmita – a sabbatical year. Traditionally, shmita is a time to rest, reflect, and recharge. At M², we have made a logistically complex and absolutely necessary decision to observe the month of Tishrei as a shmita month. HERE’S OUR GUIDE FOR HOW TO OBSERVE A SHMITA OF YOUR OWN.

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.

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.

In a series of video, a lineup of teachers from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah takes you through the ten chapters dealing with the Shemitah year

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.

This essay was originally published in Judaism and Environmental Ethics in 1966.

(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.

In this 3-part series, Jeremy Benstein and Shira Hecht-Koller from 929 and Shamu Sadeh of Hazon discuss how Jewish tradition frames the human relationship with the natural world, using texts from the Hebrew Bible and rabbinic stories.

A piyut (liturgical poem) for Selichot for the advent of the Shmita year. This short piyut touches on these four themes related to Shmita: release of debts, the rights of the land, the rights of wild animals (who share our food during Shmita), and the freeing of slaves.

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.

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.

This essay by 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 reflection on shmita a frame for organizing labor

The Rolling Jubilee is a project of the Debt Collective which emerged after the financial crisis of 2008. With individuals struggling with debt unable to access real support, Rolling Jubilee began buying debt for pennies on the dollar - then abolishing it. A bailout of the people, by the people, entirely supported by individual donations. Their work continues today on a broader scale.

A dvar from Rabbi Jill Hammer on how to use Shmita as inspiration to care for the Earth.

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.

Rabbi Dani Passow offers a glimpse into the sacred practice of rest and how integral this is to a holistic relationship with Torah

Shemita examines the underlying principles and practical observance of the Jewish agricultural sabbatical year, leading readers from the sources in the Torah, Mishna and Gemara to the rulings of leading halakhic authorities, including Rav Kook and the Chazon Ish. The most comprehensive and systematic guidebook on the subject, Shemita considers the laws and numerous challenges and solutions pertaining to topics from tree pruning to fruit buying and soup making.

A halachic look at shmita, kosher laws, and how it impacts the Diaspora.

The Sabbatical year is upon us! 18 months ago as the realities of the pandemic set in, a lot of folks were talking about how this would be a society-wide opportunity to slow down. What happened?