The Society of Sheva

Harper Pierce

About Harper Pierce

Harper Pierce is a freshman at Gann Academy in Waltham, Massachusetts. She enjoys skiing, playing volleyball, reading, writing, and participating in her school’s Model United Nations team. She is inspired by Jewish studies, her friends, and moral ethics.

About The Society of Sheva

I chose to write a short story because I feel like I could communicate some of the main ideas of Shmita while still being creative with my writing. Using a society as an example of the underlying concepts of Shmita helps highlight them through a societal norm perspective. I was inspired by one of the underlying ideas of Shmita, sharing abundance. Scholars say that since abundance belongs to the earth, and not us, we are technically not even sharing it because it was not ours to begin with. This is exemplified in the Shmita Sourcebook, Biur; “What is implied? If a person has dried figs at home, he may partake of them as long as there are figs on the trees in the field. When there are no longer figs in the field, it is forbidden for him to partake of the figs he has at home and he must instead remove them.” This quote demonstrates the underlying Shmita principle of how abundance belongs to the earth, and how one can’t keep produce to themselves. This also relates to food systems and economic systems, as the way in which abundance is shared relates to how our food and economic systems work. Growing food without tilling to the land benefits our food systems and how they function naturally. This lets the land rest and recuperate, growing it’s strength. Sharing food wealth without the mindset that the food inherently belongs to you improves the functioning of economic systems, and benefits those who are impoverished. Many people around the world today suffer from food insecurity, and sharing food wealth, possibly at a food pantry would help solve this. That principle is the most highlighted idea in my short story.


The Society of Sheva was arguably advanced, compared to previous civilizations before it. Before the society existed, many years ago, a cycle occurred within Jewish time. Every 7 years there was a year of rest for the land, the economy, the animals, and for us. This year was titled Shmita, and existed within a spiral of time. This spiral of time spun around an axis, the axis commonly being the number 7. As said in the first chapter of Genesis, “God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and God separated the light from the darkness.” This was the first day. In the span of 7 days God created the sky & the oceans, the land, the sun, moon, & the stars, the birds & the fish, and the land animals. And on the seventh day, God rested. This seven-day spiral is often related to Shmita, and our daily lives within this society.  

 I don’t know exactly how Sheva came to be, but I know a few things. Firstly, we existed within the year of Shmita. It was no longer a year of rest, because it was no longer on occasion. Secondly, annual plants had become extinct. We could no longer tend to the land, so wild plants had taken over. Every field is mine, and every field is yours. There were no fields, no lines drawn. No Pe’ah. It all belonged to everybody, and that was the most important thing. My own backyard was a thick jungle of perennial trees, carobs and lemons hung as a curtain around my bedroom window. “Farmers” were no longer a profession, as farms simply did not exist. No tending to the land, remember? Annual plants were no longer grown in Sheva (they required tending), so we ate perennials, sfichim, and wilds exclusively. Our animals were not domesticated, and they did not work. Wild bison and cats roamed through the hills, often finding a meal in my own backyard. This was all welcomed in Sheva, as we were inarguably the Land of Rest. 

 One day specifically, I walked around my neighborhood in search of carrots for a recipe. I ended up at a neighbor’s house who was not very active in our neighborhood. I knocked on his door once, and got no answer. Then a second time, with no answer. On the third knock my neighbor opened the door, looking puzzled.  

“Hello?” He sounded unamused.  

“Hi there.” I smiled. “I’m in need of carrots for my dinner tonight, do you have any?”  

“Ah.” The neighbor scratched his chin. “See I do, but I need them currently as well. Could you go somewhere else?”  

I was astounded. Keeping your abundance, or shefa, from your counterparts was strictly prohibited in Sheva. Sharing your abundance, as it technically was not yours, was a large pillar of our society.  

“I’m sorry, what?” I smiled again, this time with a drastic change of enthusiasm.  

“I need to use the carrots I have. Please go somewhere else.”  

At this point, a small crowd had gathered around the front steps of my neighbor’s house. The people spoke in hushed tones, some ready to call the authorities.  

“Could we compromise?” I asked. “I only need a few.” 

“No, I really do need them all. Sorry.” The man shut his door.  

I turned around, dumbfounded. The brief interaction I just had was a completely new experience. I had never before met someone who refused to share. The crowd dispersed slowly, and I left my neighbor’s house, still in search of carrots. After this day, my life of course began to change. I began to realize how abnormal our society was. In other places, this refusal of sharing would be completely acceptable, and most often dismissed. I gained a new perspective this day. Our society was different. Perhaps, that is why it was so special.