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Hazon Shmita Blog

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V'zot HaBracha: Flourishing in the Shmita Year, by Elyssa Hurwitz

V'zot HaBracha: Flourishing in the Shmita Year, by Elyssa Hurwitz

September 23rd, 2021

In the same vein that Moshe blessed the tribes of Israel in their own ways at the end of his journey and the next step of theirs, I bless each of us that we lean into our natural strengths[...]

Ha’azinu: God Calls on the Earth to Hear God’s Words, by Amalia Haas

Ha’azinu: God Calls on the Earth to Hear God’s Words, by Amalia Haas

September 17th, 2021

If we have the courage to open our hearts to the Mussar of Shmita we see that all lives emanate equally from the One. They have the same claim to nurturance and protection and well-being as do we, to resources[...]

Vayelech: Release Yourselves, The Shmita Year Has Arrived, by Miriam Midlarsky Lichtenfeld

Vayelech: Release Yourselves, The Shmita Year Has Arrived, by Miriam Midlarsky Lichtenfeld

September 9th, 2021

"In choosing a way to mark Shmita, inspired by the Hakhel ceremony in this week’s parsha, we will be honoring our heritage and rededicating ourselves to the earth, the environment, and the Torah." In our parsha, Vayelech, Moses instructs the priests[...]

Nitzavim: The Great Equalizer, by Sarah Zell Young

Nitzavim: The Great Equalizer, by Sarah Zell Young

September 2nd, 2021

Shmita is not only about the seventh year, shmita is a cycle preceded by 6 other years. It invites us to inventory ourselves, our choices and our middos, character traits, in the previous cycle and envision how we want to[...]

Ki Tavo: Remembering History, by Ruth Messinger

Ki Tavo: Remembering History, by Ruth Messinger

August 26th, 2021

"This is a core principal of shmita to let the fields rest and allow the hungry to eat from them. In a country where there is gross food insecurity, in a world where people are suffering environmental calamities and dangerous[...]

Ki Teitzei: Letting the Mother Go, by Aharon Ariel Lavi

Ki Teitzei: Letting the Mother Go, by Aharon Ariel Lavi

August 19th, 2021

 With one hand we acquire the eggs or the fledglings (or the crops) but with the other we let the mother go (or leave something for the poor to live on). Recognizing the fact that using natural resources for our[...]

Shoftim: Why Do We Need Judges and Police? By Michael J. Broyde

Shoftim: Why Do We Need Judges and Police? By Michael J. Broyde

August 12th, 2021

Moses appointed police officers over the tribes but did not mention any judges. One might think, if we cannot have judges, at the least our society should have police.  But, actually this is wrong.  Police cannot be the law – they[...]

Re’eh: Seeing the Unseen, By Devorah Brous

Re’eh: Seeing the Unseen, By Devorah Brous

August 5th, 2021

"When Moses stands in front of the tribes of Israel before they enter the holy land he gives a choice to follow the path of greed and exploitation or to choose life.  In rewilding, may we learn to see the[...]

Ekev: Nature Imitates Humanity, by Yehudis Fishman

Ekev: Nature Imitates Humanity, by Yehudis Fishman

July 23rd, 2021

Sometimes we have to tread lightly, even on holy land, so that we can recall the ultimate Source of food, wealth, and our own lives.  The entanglement of humanity and nature threads throughout the Torah, especially in Parshat Ekev. Sometimes it[...]

Va’etchanan: Strengthen Your Spiritual Health, by Akiva Gersh

Va’etchanan: Strengthen Your Spiritual Health, by Akiva Gersh

July 21st, 2021

That is Shmita. Stop plowing, stop planting, stop weeding, stop watering, stop harvesting in our normal ways (or the modern-day parallel to these things) and use that freed-up time to start studying more, reading more, praying more, meditating more, sitting[...]

Devarim: Zion will be redeemed through justice: what Shmita teaches us about Tisha B’Av and the promise of Devarim, by Rabbi David Seidenberg

Devarim: Zion will be redeemed through justice: what Shmita teaches us about Tisha B’Av and the promise of Devarim, by Rabbi David Seidenberg

July 12th, 2021

"On Tisha B’Av, we imagine that the land mourns with us. But that’s our human-centered way of seeing things. From God’s perspective, which is closer to an ecological perspective, the well-being of the land comes first. When humanity violates the[...]

Matot-Masei: The Land is Our Mother, by Rabbi Sam Feinsmith

Matot-Masei: The Land is Our Mother, by Rabbi Sam Feinsmith

July 6th, 2021

“They journeyed...and camped...and journeyed…” (Numbers 33:3-49). The nomadic lifestyle of the people, their constant journeying, encamping, and journeying once again as the spirit moved them served to remind them that they were but visitors upon this earth, here for a[...]

Pinchas: Of Names and Land, by Ilana Stein

Pinchas: Of Names and Land, by Ilana Stein

June 27th, 2021

What is so important about this story? It is not necessarily or only about equal rights. With our ‘shmita’ caps on, at all points at which this narrative is told, it is a message to the men who have the[...]

Balak: A Right-Sizing Blessing, by Fred Scherlinder Dobb

Balak: A Right-Sizing Blessing, by Fred Scherlinder Dobb

June 23rd, 2021

הִנֵּ֥ה בָרֵ֖ךְ לָקָ֑חְתִּי וּבֵרֵ֖ךְ וְלֹ֥א אֲשִׁיבֶֽנָּה׃ “Behold, I’m bidden to bless:  And God has blessed; I cannot / will not reverse it.” (Numbers 23:20) What’s a blessing, anyway?!  The root bet-resh-khaf, in biblical context, can mean gifting, predicting, describing, cursing, magnifying, and more.  That[...]

Chukat: Child Sacrifice and Shmita, by Rabbi Gila Caine

Chukat: Child Sacrifice and Shmita, by Rabbi Gila Caine

June 14th, 2021

"But Shmita teaches us that we are only guests here on the Land, and it teaches us that we are always planning for at least seven years in the future, if not for forty-nine or fifty. When we think in[...]

Parshat Korach: The Taker, by Hannah Elovitz

Parshat Korach: The Taker, by Hannah Elovitz

June 8th, 2021

"As the climate crisis worsens, the ground opening up and swallowing Korach’s band does not feel as far-fetched as it once may have. The earth is not an endless supply of resources for our consumption, and greed will only exacerbate[...]

Shlach: Moving Forward with Faith, by Bruce Spierer

Shlach: Moving Forward with Faith, by Bruce Spierer

June 2nd, 2021

“Now if you should say to yourselves: What are we to eat in the seventh year? For we may not sow, we may not gather our produce! Then I will dispatch my blessing for you during the sixth year so[...]

Behaalotecha: Until Miryam Was Brought Back, by Dr. Gregory Mobley

Behaalotecha: Until Miryam Was Brought Back, by Dr. Gregory Mobley

May 26th, 2021

“and the people did not set out until Miryam was brought back”  (Numbers 12:15) I have a thing for stories so the section of Behaalotecha that attracted my attention was the scene in Numbers 12:1-16 in which Miryam is struck by[...]

Naso: Disciplining the Green Eyed Monster, by Dr. Susan Eisenstein

Naso: Disciplining the Green Eyed Monster, by Dr. Susan Eisenstein

May 19th, 2021

At one time or another we have all been visited by "the green eyed monster." Maybe you know someone who just bought a new car and you cannot afford a new car. Maybe a work colleague just received a promotion[...]

Bamidbar: Grow, Grow, by Dr. Susan Eisenstein

Bamidbar: Grow, Grow, by Dr. Susan Eisenstein

May 4th, 2021

I have always loved land. Although a city kid, from the time I was five years old, I remember wanting to live on a farm. I loved seeing things grow and planting seeds for food and flowers. Every plant to[...]

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Shmita & Parshat Behar Bechukotai 5781

May 4th, 2021

Please enjoy this week's video newsletter message. Full text transcript is below.  We were thinking we might try and send out some videos as well as just written words, and this week's parsha seemed like a great time to begin. (Leviticus 25:1)[...]

Behar-Bechukotai: Letting the Land Rest, by Rabbi Yonatan Neril

Behar-Bechukotai: Letting the Land Rest, by Rabbi Yonatan Neril

May 4th, 2021

Then shall the land make up for its Sabbatical years throughout the time that it is desolate and you are in the land of your enemies; then shall the land rest and make up for its Sabbatical years. (Leviticus 26:34) Today,[...]

Emor: Holidays For The Haves – And The Have-Nots, by Dr. Jeremy Benstein

Emor: Holidays For The Haves – And The Have-Nots, by Dr. Jeremy Benstein

April 21st, 2021

Parashat Emor includes one of the Torah’s major accounts of the festival calendar. In Leviticus chapter 23, after the description of the Temple rites of Shavuot, the text repeats the commandments of peah and leket, to leave the corners of the fields and the[...]

Acharei-Kedoshim: Love is a Clean Slate, by Anna Dubey

Acharei-Kedoshim: Love is a Clean Slate, by Anna Dubey

April 21st, 2021

This week’s parsha, Acharei-Kedoshim, focuses on a number of ordinances about sanctification and holiness. Buried among laws of purification is a central tenet of Judaism: “ואהבת לרעך כמוך,” or “Love your fellow as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18) In a Talmudic story I[...]

Tazria-Metzora: Seedtime, by Sue Salinger

Tazria-Metzora: Seedtime, by Sue Salinger

April 14th, 2021

Let’s locate ourselves in space and time to enter this poetic, symbolic story for personally reconnecting with the divine and repairing breaches to the god-field. Tazria-Metzora is the instruction manual for holy personal, communal, and sacred repair — for restoring[...]

Shemini: Respecting the Sanctity of Life, by Rabbi Miriam Midlarsky Lichtenfeld

Shemini: Respecting the Sanctity of Life, by Rabbi Miriam Midlarsky Lichtenfeld

April 7th, 2021

Back in my teen years, at our pre-Prom gathering at my friend’s house, I didn’t eat any of the shrimp cocktail that she had put out for us to eat. She praised my self-discipline. To me, though, this seemed natural[...]

Tzav: Hiddur Mitzvah - Are My Hands Clean? by Shoshana Gugenheim Kedem

Tzav: Hiddur Mitzvah - Are My Hands Clean? by Shoshana Gugenheim Kedem

March 23rd, 2021

We named our daughter Hadar.  She was born on Shabbat of parashat Tzav which contains a small and precious passage detailing the garments with which Moshe adorns Aharon for his service at the Temple.  The name Hadar shares a root[...]

Vayikra: Call Them In, by Rabbi Gila Caine

Vayikra: Call Them In, by Rabbi Gila Caine

March 15th, 2021

וַיִּקְרָ֖א אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֑ה וַיְדַבֵּ֤ר יְהוָה֙ אֵלָ֔יו מֵאֹ֥הֶל מוֹעֵ֖ד לֵאמֹֽר׃ “And He called to Moshe and Adonai spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying….” (Lev. 1:1) Why first call and then speak? Why not go right to speaking? Talmud suggests that in this, the[...]

Vayakel-Pekudei: Work on Your Connection by Eli Weinbach

Vayakel-Pekudei: Work on Your Connection by Eli Weinbach

March 9th, 2021

Rest requires work. Without putting in the prep time, we may find that a day off is spent thinking about what has yet to be done. Without planning, vacation may not be much more exciting than staying home. Extended conversation[...]

Ki Tisa: Believe in Equality and Leave the REST to G-d by Dvir Cahana

Ki Tisa: Believe in Equality and Leave the REST to G-d by Dvir Cahana

March 4th, 2021

The story beats of Parshat Ki Tisa teach us two Shmita-esque concepts. The Parsha begins with the democratized call to cooperatively erect the Mishkan, where each individual was commanded to evenly contribute a half-shekel to the project. The purpose of[...]

Purim: Truths Revealed Over The Past Year by Melissa Hoffman

Purim: Truths Revealed Over The Past Year by Melissa Hoffman

February 22nd, 2021

Many of us anticipated this Purim as the approximate year-marker since our lives changed unimaginably. There’s something apt about the holiday that highlights the topsy-turvy nature of life bookending the beginning — and hopefully the beginning of the end —[...]

Terumah: Good Neighbors by Judry Subar

Terumah: Good Neighbors by Judry Subar

February 16th, 2021

Breathlessly, the first third of the Torah runs through stories of creation, accounts of love and rupture in the pre-Israelite and Israelite family, reports of slavery experienced and slavery escaped, and rules governing all sorts of circumstances.  Over the course[...]

Mishpatim: We All Live Downstream by Adriane Leveen

Mishpatim: We All Live Downstream by Adriane Leveen

February 9th, 2021

"We all live downstream." Those words, spoken by a member of a first nation community in the haunting film, The Condor and the Eagle, capture a simple truth we are too ready to forget. None of us will escape the[...]

Yitro: The Operating Manual by Deirdre Gabbay

Yitro: The Operating Manual by Deirdre Gabbay

February 2nd, 2021

Parshat Yitro, in the book of Exodus, contains the beginning of the story of the Revelation at Sinai. The story of Revelation begins here, but the telling unfolds in a complex, layered piece of narrative origami. The halakhic midrash of[...]

Beshalach: Redemption Song by Rabbi Isaiah Rothstein

Beshalach: Redemption Song by Rabbi Isaiah Rothstein

January 29th, 2021

It is Friday evening and the sun is just about the set. The synagogue is filled with a psalm and song-filled greeting for Her Majesty, the Shabbat Queen. After six long days of toiling, working, and serving,  we have finally[...]

Bo: Hyssop - The Paintbrush of Liberation, by Rabbi David Seidenberg

Bo: Hyssop - The Paintbrush of Liberation, by Rabbi David Seidenberg

January 20th, 2021

In parshat Bo, the destroying angel passes over the houses of the Israelites — in Hebrew “pasach al hapetach” — sparing their firstborn, and giving the Passover holiday its name in Hebrew and English. But the angel only “knows” who[...]

Vaera: Our Plagues and Our Plans by Ann Hait and Rabbi Gabe Greenberg

Vaera: Our Plagues and Our Plans by Ann Hait and Rabbi Gabe Greenberg

January 12th, 2021

In Parshat Vaera, the action revolves around God’s command, through Moses, that Pharoah free the enslaved Israelites. Pharaoh's hard-headedness and selfishness preclude him from doing so immediately, and in response, God sends a series of plagues to Egypt. Dam, tzfarde'a,[...]

Shemot: Talking with God by SooJi Min-Maranda

Shemot: Talking with God by SooJi Min-Maranda

January 6th, 2021

This week’s parsha, Shemot, is the same Torah portion that I read from the bima at Temple Beth Emeth in Ann Arbor, MI, thirteen-and-a-half years after officially claiming Judaism as an adult b’nai mitzvah. What a wonderful opportunity to be[...]

Vayechi: Brotherly Love by Eli Weinbach

Vayechi: Brotherly Love by Eli Weinbach

December 30th, 2020

This week, Jacob, like his father before him, sets out to bless his progeny. The first to receive his blessings are Joseph’s sons, the brothers Ephraim and Menashe. Those who have been following since Bereshit will know that being a[...]

Vayigash: We Need Emotional Shmita Now by Rabbi Shoshana Friedman

Vayigash: We Need Emotional Shmita Now by Rabbi Shoshana Friedman

December 23rd, 2020

Deep into the Joseph story, we come to a moment that catches my breath and makes me tear up every year. Joseph, sold to slavery long ago, stands now as the viceroy of Egypt. He has designed a system of[...]