The Shmita Bomb
About Boaz Willis
I’m a Yid born and raised in Los Angeles, California. After spending time studying in a yeshiva I fell in love with Mishnah, yet was largely bored by the rote and non-dynamic ways of teaching/learning that are characteristic of so many Jewish learning institutions. I longed for something more casual and accessible, yet just as impactful and inspiring. I began thinking of non-traditional forms of learning – observation, simulation, gamification – and how these might have a place in the framework of Jewish learning. I launched ‘The ShtarkShirts Project’ in the hopes that some of these ideas might take root within the broader Jewish community. I began by re-thinking Jewish garb. I often ask people what their clothing represents, logos, designs, and patterns usually have a story behind them and make for ripe conversation. I asked myself ‘What would I have to wear to provoke conversation about torah?’ I decided to create T-shirts with illustrations of mishnah on them, this way when someone asks it’s not too hard to cite an exact source, and begin learning together word by word. My latest invention is the Mishnah Bomb Card, and I’m very excited to see how it can impact Jewish discourse.
About The Shmita Bomb
Mishnah Bomb – Verb The act of unsuspectingly reminding another Jew of their ever-present obligation to study Torah; mainly through the recitation of laws recorded in the Mishnah. Often executed by hiding a Mishnah Card in a place that will later be discovered by another, obligating them to memorize the attached mishnah. The Shmita Project Mishnah Bomb obligates us in reciting and upholding the traditions cited in Mishnah Sheviit. Within this tractate I’ve chosen to highlight mishnah 10:1, which articulates a basic principle that ‘שְׂכַר שָׂכִיר, אֵינוֹ מְשַׁמֵּט’ – ‘A workers’ wage-debt is not cancelled. As we’re living in a world where wealth is further consolidated by obscenely rich owners/employers, we must fight even harder for workers rights and wages. Wage-theft: the failure to pay workers what is owed to them, is still a prominent issue for low-income wage workers. These people are those that are already struggling most to make ends meet, and further disenfranchisement has a disproportionate impact on their suffering. In reflecting on our sages wisdom, we are charged with safeguarding the wages of workers and paying them what is due, an imperative that does not cease with the shmita year. The Shmita Project Mishnah Bomb Card therefore has a number of expressed uses:To recite and recognize our commitment to workers and the debts due to them.To encourage our communities to hold employers accountable for their exploitation of labor. To encourage workers to demand what’s owed to them.With the creation of the Mishnah Bomb, I’ve resituated Oral Torah and Mishnah as it had been preserved in the time of our sages – a communal performance of recitation and explication. However, I’ve done so by harnessing the power of modern tech, directing users with QR codes, Soundcloud recordings, and infographics. To get your own set go to www.shtarkshirts.com!