When Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, this harmony was shattered and the relationship between humanity and the Earth was broken. Hashem had warned them that partaking from the tree would have consequences, “for on the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”  However, their desire to derive benefit overpowered their sense of responsibility and blinded them to the disastrous consequences of their actions.
Yet we are not powerless in the face of this broken awareness. 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. With today’s environmental challenges, these mitzvot may be more relevant and needed today than at any time in Jewish and world history.