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Hazon Shmita Blog

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The Shmita weekly blog is a  partnership between Hazon and 929. If you are interested in contributing to the Shmita Blog, please email sarah.young@hazon.org.

 

Special Recent Posts

Va-Etḥanan, Shabbat Naḥamu, and Tu Be-Av: With  Heaven And Earth As Our Witness, By Rabbi Louis Polisson

Va-Etḥanan, Shabbat Naḥamu, and Tu Be-Av: With Heaven And Earth As Our Witness, By Rabbi Louis Polisson

August 10th, 2022

"If you know you have harmed the earth, know that you can heal it." On Shabbat Naḥamu, the Sabbath of Comfort the week after Tish’ah B’Av, we read Parashat Va-Etḥanan. Though Shabbat Naḥamu is about consolation and healing after lamenting Jewish[...]

Devarim/Hazon, Erev Tisha B'Av: Rooting Ourselves In Space And Time by Rabbi Jesse Paikin

Devarim/Hazon, Erev Tisha B'Av: Rooting Ourselves In Space And Time by Rabbi Jesse Paikin

August 3rd, 2022

On the confluence of the beginning of Deuteronomy, Tisha b’Av, and the shmita year North Americans often suffer from the affliction of being uprooted from space and time. Out of a historical or philosophical perspective, some of us call ourselves “post-modern,”[...]

Matot-Masei: What We Can Learn from Regret, by Rabba Dr. Carmella Abraham

Matot-Masei: What We Can Learn from Regret, by Rabba Dr. Carmella Abraham

July 28th, 2022

"Through the lens of regret, we learn the importance of appreciating the land and its fundamental purpose of sustaining humankind." In a surprising twist, the midrash recounts the regret expressed  by the tribes of Reuben and Gad for choosing to stay[...]

Pinchas: Loving the Land, by Talia Weisberg

Pinchas: Loving the Land, by Talia Weisberg

July 20th, 2022

"If we lived our love for land - whether in Israel or elsewhere in the world - how different would our world look?" Parshat Pinchas is, at its core, about loving the Land of Israel. The first major event of the[...]

Balak: Getting The Best of Both Worlds, by Aharon Ariel Lavi

Balak: Getting The Best of Both Worlds, by Aharon Ariel Lavi

July 13th, 2022

"Where is the sweet spot between conserving and respecting the past (cycles), and progressing towards a new reality (linearly)?" Parashat Balak is one of the two weekly portions in the Torah named after a significant non-Jewish protagonist. The first one is[...]

Chukat: What Happens When You Keep Hitting The Rock by Gillian Steinberg

Chukat: What Happens When You Keep Hitting The Rock by Gillian Steinberg

July 6th, 2022

"We must hear both God and the rock crying out: the punishment is upon us." In Chukat, after Bnei Yisrael complain about missing the comforts of home, Moses strikes a rock to elicit water. God is angry at Moses for striking[...]

Korach: When Is The Desire For Equality Sincere? by Avraham Norin

Korach: When Is The Desire For Equality Sincere? by Avraham Norin

June 29th, 2022

"Capable leadership can use authority wisely to contribute to solidarity and equality." A memorable line from the movie The Incredibles is said as Syndrome captures the Incredible family and explains his grandiose plan to the captured heroes "I'll sell my inventions[...]

Shlach: Honoring The Bounty by Rachel Siegal

Shlach: Honoring The Bounty by Rachel Siegal

June 23rd, 2022

"A person who is deeply connected to the land around her is a person who can honor its uniqueness, celebrate its bounty, and respect its need to rest." This week’s parsha, Shlach, contains the well-known scene of the scouts sent to[...]

B’haalot’cha: Of Fertility And Infertility In Land And People by Anna Burke

B’haalot’cha: Of Fertility And Infertility In Land And People by Anna Burke

June 15th, 2022

"Action and prayer work hand-in-hand; we cannot rely solely on God for our well-being, but we can derive meaning and support from walking our journeys with God in our hearts and minds." Parashat B’haalot’cha marks the beginning of the Israelites’ journey[...]

Naso: Lift Up Their Heads - And Notice Them, by Rabbi Carol Glass

Naso: Lift Up Their Heads - And Notice Them, by Rabbi Carol Glass

June 8th, 2022

"Moving towards equity, inclusion, and diversity by truly seeing others and sharing our bounty with them." By mandating a 7th year cessation of all agricultural production and the release of intra-Jewish debts, shmita is a highly ‘disruptive’ ancient Jewish practice with[...]

BaMidbar: Being Sustained, In Eden and the Wilderness, by Rabbi Eli Herb

BaMidbar: Being Sustained, In Eden and the Wilderness, by Rabbi Eli Herb

May 31st, 2022

"To create a society balanced between the curse of civilization and the wildness of being nourished by the Creator." “When the Holy Blessed One gave the Torah, no bird chirped, no fowl fluttered, no ox lowed … the sea did not[...]

BeHukkotai: Why Land is Different, by Rabbi Dr. Bradley Shavit Artson

BeHukkotai: Why Land is Different, by Rabbi Dr. Bradley Shavit Artson

May 25th, 2022

"Land is imbued with holiness, which means that like God, it is beyond human measures of usefulness or control" As we prepare to close the Book of Leviticus, the Torah’s pinnacle, we are left with a message of responsibility, consequences, and[...]

Parshat Behar: To Dwell Within Them, by Arthur Green

Parshat Behar: To Dwell Within Them, by Arthur Green

May 18th, 2022

״אין לך פרשה שאין בה תחיית המתים אלא שאין בנו כח לדרוש״  (ספרי האזינו ש״ו) There is no portion in the Torah that cannot be brought back to life, if only we had the strength to interpret!” (Sifrei, Ha’azinu 306:35) 1 וידבר יהו״ה[...]

Parshat Emor: Making It All Count, By Rabbi Jon Kelsen

Parshat Emor: Making It All Count, By Rabbi Jon Kelsen

May 11th, 2022

"Counting the Omer - like the shemitah cycle - invites us to believe that each day, week and year is count-worthy, valuable and unique." One after the other, the days proceed. The slog continues on, with no progress or forward movement[...]

Parashat Kedoshim: How To Be Holy Now?, by Rabbi Atara Cohen

Parashat Kedoshim: How To Be Holy Now?, by Rabbi Atara Cohen

May 4th, 2022

"Taking a step back to envision a holy, caring society - especially in light of the oppression perpetuated by this very parasha." Parashat Kedoshim begins with what one might call a “greatest hits” compilation of mitzvot. Here God lists the ways[...]

Acharei Mot: You Can Be Too At Home by Abe Mezrich

Acharei Mot: You Can Be Too At Home by Abe Mezrich

April 27th, 2022

"What you see as your own private grounds is actually a base from which to serve the world." It makes sense that Aaron’s sons would bring a strange fire to God in the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Aaron their father is the high[...]

Pesach Torah Reading: Between Particular and Universal, by Vincent Calabrese

Pesach Torah Reading: Between Particular and Universal, by Vincent Calabrese

April 12th, 2022

"Though the Exodus tells the story of one nation’s birth, the legal and religious system to which it gives rise is open to outsiders." On Passover our Torah reading is taken from one of the most dramatic moments of the Book[...]

Metzora: Illness And Recovery, Then And Now by Mira Potter-Schwartz and Rabbi Ariel Milan-Polisar

Metzora: Illness And Recovery, Then And Now by Mira Potter-Schwartz and Rabbi Ariel Milan-Polisar

April 7th, 2022

Just as the Torah provides an opportunity for recovery regardless of poverty level - different recovery pathways dependent on means - so too should our health system. Parshat Metzora marks the end of the instructions that detail what a person afflicted[...]

Tazria/Shabbat Ha’Chodesh: Release, Respect, Renew by Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Tazria/Shabbat Ha’Chodesh: Release, Respect, Renew by Rabbi Arthur Waskow

March 30th, 2022

The parasha for this week is Parashat Tazria, but it also Shabbat Ha’Chodesh, the week of the new moon of Nisan, the month of Pesach. The haftarah is from Ezekiel 45:16 - 46:18.  "By whatever gateway we enter the shmitah year,[...]

Shemini: Energizing The Ultimate Source Of Energy, by Judry Subar

Shemini: Energizing The Ultimate Source Of Energy, by Judry Subar

March 23rd, 2022

"When we focus on the purposes of Shmita  we facilitate the flow of spiritual power from earth to heaven and back again." So many adjectives can be used to describe the act of eating: necessary, enjoyable, challenging, fraught, social, and on[...]

Parashat Tzav: Shmita As An Expression of Gratitude By Shoshana Michael Zucker

Parashat Tzav: Shmita As An Expression of Gratitude By Shoshana Michael Zucker

March 16th, 2022

People who have the tools of production at their disposal should gratefully acknowledge their blessings, and invite others to partake of the bounty.  Of the many sacrifices mandated in Parashat Tzav, one stands out: the thanksgiving offering (Leviticus 7:12-15), which must[...]

Vayikra, Zachor: Stepping Back, Drawing Close By Rabbi Daniel Raphael Silverstein

Vayikra, Zachor: Stepping Back, Drawing Close By Rabbi Daniel Raphael Silverstein

March 9th, 2022

"When we release our usual patterns and tools, we open a sacred space for contemplation, and for re-imagining ourselves and our world." Our parsha of Vayikra (“And He called”) begins the third book of the Torah, to which it also gives[...]

Pekudei: Combining Laws And Generosity by Josh Weiner

Pekudei: Combining Laws And Generosity by Josh Weiner

March 3rd, 2022

"Like the mishkan that was built of laws and gifts, the paradoxes of the shmita system allow kindness to re-enter our economic lives." This week’s parasha concludes the construction of the Mishkan - the portable center of ritual life as the[...]

Vayakhel: Some Striking Shabbat And Shmita Parallels by Rabbi Jack Bieler

Vayakhel: Some Striking Shabbat And Shmita Parallels by Rabbi Jack Bieler

February 24th, 2022

Just as the weekly Shabbat starkly reminds us who is the Creator and who is the Creature, shmita achieves a similar goal Parashat Vayakhel, although primarily devoted to the fabrication of the Tabernacle and its vessels, begins (Exodus 35:1-3) with a[...]

Ki Tissa: Breaking God’s Tablets? Way To Go, Moses! by Rabbi Jessica Fisher

Ki Tissa: Breaking God’s Tablets? Way To Go, Moses! by Rabbi Jessica Fisher

February 17th, 2022

"Sometimes rupture is necessary and holy. Sometimes disruption is an essential spiritual practice." In parashat Ki Tissa, we encounter one of the pivotal moments of tension in the Torah. After spending forty days and nights on Mount Sinai, Moses descends, carrying[...]

Tetzaveh: Portable Holiness, Global Jewishness by Elyssa Hurwitz

Tetzaveh: Portable Holiness, Global Jewishness by Elyssa Hurwitz

February 9th, 2022

"Holiness is inside of us, meaning we can embrace shmita, both inside and outside of the Land of Israel, inside and outside of the traditional ways of observing it." As we continue forward through both the Book of Exodus and the[...]

Terumah: Cultivating The Trait of Generosity, by Rabbi Micah Peltz

Terumah: Cultivating The Trait of Generosity, by Rabbi Micah Peltz

February 3rd, 2022

"When we are able to live generously, then we can create not only a sacred structure, but a more sacred world."  Parashat Terumah begins the final section of the book of Exodus which deals mostly with the construction of the mishkan,[...]

Mishpatim: Shmita, By Rabbi Dr. Bradley Shavit Artson

Mishpatim: Shmita, By Rabbi Dr. Bradley Shavit Artson

January 26th, 2022

"Our mastery and possession of creatures and objects is always provisional and limited by the broader guidelines of our creatureliness." This parashah is known in Hebrew as Sefer Ha-Brit (the Book of the Covenant). It contains the first body of laws[...]

Yitro: The Ten Commandments As A Guide To A Sustainable Society, By Dr. Jeremy Benstein

Yitro: The Ten Commandments As A Guide To A Sustainable Society, By Dr. Jeremy Benstein

January 19th, 2022

"What does it take to build a society that will long endure on the land?"  The highlight of this week's parasha, the Decalogue, begins with God's self-identification as having brought Israel "out of the house of bondage" and launches directly into[...]

Beshalach: The Knowledge Of Water, Fire And Clouds By Rabbi Gila Caine

Beshalach: The Knowledge Of Water, Fire And Clouds By Rabbi Gila Caine

January 12th, 2022

"This is the strongest lesson of shmita, that the non-human world around and within us is filled with its own intelligence, and its own Torah." This week’s Torah portion kicks off with our ancestors leaving Mitzrayim (the Biblical Egypt, the place[...]

Bo: In Times Of Darkness, Can We Share Our Light? By Yali Szulanski

Bo: In Times Of Darkness, Can We Share Our Light? By Yali Szulanski

January 6th, 2022

"The plague of darkness evokes imagery of desperation, fear, and of dark times. It is the plague, perhaps, that most echoes the time we live in now." Parashat Bo occurs in anticipation of Bne’i Israel’s exodus from Egypt. Here, the last[...]

Vaera: What Gives Me Hope? By Dr. Barak Gale

Vaera: What Gives Me Hope? By Dr. Barak Gale

December 29th, 2021

"Shmita offers a “release” from this harsh legacy, whispering to us: Aspire to this time when you no longer harden your heart."   Vaera recounts the Ten Plagues and the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart.  I am often asked in my climate presentations[...]

Shemot: Building A Society That Rejects Decadence And Oppression, By Rabbi Binyamin Zimmerman

Shemot: Building A Society That Rejects Decadence And Oppression, By Rabbi Binyamin Zimmerman

December 23rd, 2021

Shemitah and jubilee ensure that Israeli society will be protective of the weak, combating wage gaps and building a redeemed economy. If it worked with the Exodus, it could work now.   Parashat Shemot begins the second book of the Torah, Exodus,[...]

Parashat Vayechi: E Pluribus Unum? by Judry Subar

Parashat Vayechi: E Pluribus Unum? by Judry Subar

December 16th, 2021

We must temper using our own resources to satisfy our individual human desires in recognition of our responsibility to preserve our Earth for the benefit of humanity. Mortality sets the scene for the concluding chapters of Genesis. Vayechi, the last portion[...]

Parashat Vayigash: Feeding the World, By Shoshana Michael Zucker

Parashat Vayigash: Feeding the World, By Shoshana Michael Zucker

December 3rd, 2021

"From both the story of Joseph and the practice of Shmita, we learn that the earth, if respected, is capable of producing adequate food. Hunger is a human-caused problem that humans can solve." Parashat Vayigash is set during the famine that[...]

Miketz: Learning from Joseph's Mistakes, By Rabbi David Seidenberg

Miketz: Learning from Joseph's Mistakes, By Rabbi David Seidenberg

December 2nd, 2021

"Therein lies a basic lesson of Shmita: You can’t deprive other people or the land of their freedom in order to preserve your own." The Shabbat of Chanukah is here. When we left Joseph last week, he was in the dungeon.[...]

Vayeshev: Equal Social Dignity, By Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin

Vayeshev: Equal Social Dignity, By Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin

November 24th, 2021

"So whether you wear a coat of many colors or a simple shift when you glean, shmita is a reminder that we are all the same: temporary tenants wholly dependent on the gifts of this God-given world." “Now Israel loved Joseph[...]

Vayishlach: Wrestling Awaits even in the Shmita Year, By Bruce Spierer

Vayishlach: Wrestling Awaits even in the Shmita Year, By Bruce Spierer

November 17th, 2021

"When you finally slow down for the shmita year, don’t be surprised if there is confrontation waiting for you to wrestle with. If you see it through, you might find new blessings in your life." In Parashat Vayishlach, Jacob returns to[...]

Vayetze: “Set In The Land” Mutzav Artza - Jacob's Ladder Through a Geocentric Lens, by Dr. Allen Katz

Vayetze: “Set In The Land” Mutzav Artza - Jacob's Ladder Through a Geocentric Lens, by Dr. Allen Katz

November 10th, 2021

"In order to effectively combat climate change and live more sustainably, our attitude must be mutzav artza, firmly grounded in the land." This week's Torah portion of Vayetze offers us a rare opportunity to glimpse into the mind of a tzaddik, Jacob[...]

Parashat Toldot: Releasing Our Attachment To Dominance, By Akiko Yonekawa

Parashat Toldot: Releasing Our Attachment To Dominance, By Akiko Yonekawa

November 3rd, 2021

The shmita year asks us to release our attachment to the dominance of land, to live in the utter immediacy of the season, to sustain ourselves with whatever the earth provides when we step away for a moment. In short,[...]