A dvar from Rabbi Jill Hammer on how to use Shmita as inspiration to care for the Earth.
Shmita is the Torah’s prescription for environmental, social, and economic sustainability. Today, climate change is the biggest threat to sustainability.
A reflection on shmita a frame for organizing labor
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.
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.