Shmita is... Mindfulness    Wisdom   Tradition Contemplation

Texts and Essays

Torah Umesorah Brooklyn Teacher Center presents a rich, multifaceted Shemitta Curriculum for upper elementary grades. Includes a complete curriculum, student calendar, professional video and captivating novel.

A festive meal to honor and celebrate the food traditions of the Sabbatical Year

Shmita Ideas and Resources for Educators

A collection of resources put together by the KKL-JNF

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.

These are the recordings of sessions at the second Shmita Vision Summit on Wednesday, July 28, 2020. This summit brought together individuals from across to globe to brainstorm and connect as a greater shmita movement in this unique moment in time.

Published by E-Jewish Philanthropy, this article offers seven points for funders to consider in creating philanthropic models inspired by Shmita values.

This source sheet is designed as an introduction to Shmita and its core texts.

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.

Shmita is the Torah’s prescription for environmental, social, and economic sustainability. Today, climate change is the biggest threat to sustainability.

This short article by Jeremy Benstein is a glimpse into a chapter about Shmita in his book, The Way into Judaism and the Environment (Jewish Lights Publishing, 2006).

A conceptual view of shmita from Yeshivat Gush Etzion

Completely redesigned with the user experience in mind, many additional sources, and more thorough commentary and explanations; the updated Shmita Sourcebook is designed to encourage readers to think critically about Shmita, its values, challenges, and opportunities, and how we might apply the Shmita tradition in a modern context to support building healthier and more sustainable Jewish communities today. The updated Sourcebook draws on a range of texts from within Jewish tradition, tracing the development and evolution of Shmita from biblical, rabbinic, historical, and contemporary perspectives. This comprehensive, accessible sourcebook is well-suited for individual, partnered, and group study, with guiding text and discussion questions to enhance your learning, regardless of educational background. The Hazon Shmita Sourcebook offers a holistic understanding of Shmita, from the depth of Jewish tradition to the most pressing issues of our time.

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.

This dvar explores how Shmita creates a sense of what is our "right" relationship with the land. It was originally published in the Hazon Shmita Weekly on July 6, 2021.

In this Mindful Shmita Workbook from The Tasman Center, we’ll offer seven prompts for reflection and practice. We hope this will be a way to savor, celebrate, and mark this Shmita year. The prompts can be responded to all at once during Elul, in preparation for the new year, during Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, or answered throughout the Shmita Year. There will be options for virtual connection with participants around the world and supplemental offerings over the course of the year as well.

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).

As industrialized nations produce more and more food each year, the earth itself is in peril, for true abundance requires rest.

These slides layout a timeline for when shmita was likely observed between 1312 BCE and 2015 CE

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.

In this 3-part series, Jeremy Benstein and Shira Hecht-Koller from 929 and Nigel Savage from Hazon explore the many dimensions of the Shmita tradition, as well as share the lessons, insights, and aspirations it offers about society, the economy, and the environment.

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.

Rosh Hashanah this year starts on the evening of September 6th - and that date is also, therefore, the start of the shmita (sabbatical) year in Jewish life. In this session, Nigel will briefly frame/introduce shmita - and will then open up a space to brainstorm the many different (and great) ways that we might choose to observe the shmita year - as individuals, as institutions, and in the wider world.

The Sabbatical Year basics: absolution of loans, desisting from all field work, and the spiritual objective of all the above.

Use this pamphlet to share about shmita with your community.

A reflection on shmita, work, and mental health that appeared in eJewishPhilanthropy

We suggest saying these blessings when you light the candles for Rosh Hashanah, for Yom Kippur, and for every Shabbat and Festival during the Shmita year. Some thoughts about why to do this and about changes in the brakhot: The reason to do this is to remain aware throughout the year of what a whole year of Shabbat Shabbaton and Shmita means — to stay both aware and active.