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As you read these texts, consider how the Rabbis had the opportunity to explore Shmita and embrace its spiritual and moral values without also having to face the challenges it came with. How do you think this may have changed their relationship with this law? What do you think the intention of the Rabbis were, in teaching about Shmita, and keeping its memory alive, in a period when it was not being observed? And for those of us still living outside of Israel, how might these voices influence our own thinking about Shmita today?
From this perspective, the rise of curiosity around Shmita today seems quite timely. While Shmita is not a synonym of “sustainability” or “social justice,” many of the components of this ancient system can lead us in that direction. On the one hand, we know this tradition comes along with deep, unsettling challenges. On the other hand, it is the values inherent within these challenges that seem to hold the idealistic vision for a long-term, holistic, sustainable future.
In this section, we have highlighted some of the agricultural and economic challenges that we face today, and paired each one with relevant Shmita principles. Far from seeking to reduce Shmita to a directive, we present these texts as a place to begin a conversation around making Shmita more relevant and accessible, in modern terms. Ideally, by looking at such societal patterns and challenges in this way, we can begin to creatively think about how to brink Shmita to life today. And not just for one year out of seven, but for all years of the Shmita Cycle.
This section has been adapted from educational resources created by 7Seeds.
And be sure to check out ‘Envisioning Sabbatical Culture: A Shmita Manifesto’ from 7Seeds, co-founder of the Shmita Project. Enjoy a narrative of awakening and reclamation; a blueprint for a more sacred, resilient, and holistic future. Included within is a collection of poetic essays and graphics inspired by the weaving together of Jewish Mythology & Permaculture Design.
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