The Thistle

Benjamin Shalva

About Benjamin Shalva

I am a writer and wandering rabbi living in the Baltimore suburbs. I write fiction and non-fiction, and have published two books (both with Grand Harbor Press) as well as many stories and articles on Jewish and non-Jewish themes. As a rabbi, I lead musical services and meditation and mindfulness programming for synagogues and Jewish communities in and around Baltimore and Washington D.C. In the summers, I serve as the rabbi for Tamarack Camps in Ortonville, Michigan. I am married to Sara Shalva, who runs arts and culture programming for the Baltimore JCC, and am the father of Lev and Avital, ages 15 and 12. We have two hound dogs and, as a family, we make a lot of noise – some tears, mostly laughter.

About The Thistle

I believe the Shmita cycle – working six years, resting on the seventh – is a natural cycle, something that resonates with our biological, social, emotional, and environmental rhythms. With this story, “The Thistle,” I wanted to explore how this cycle – six years of effort, one year of surrender – might naturally arise in the emotional life of a young married couple. It is not, I know, a typical application of Shmita. But, I believe the story addresses the heart of what Shmita offers us – the permission to try, surrender, heal, and hope again.