Topic: Shmita

Shmita Study Group Convenes in New York

On September 20, 2012, twelve people gathered at Makom Hadash for the first of a seven-part shmita study group, which was coordinated by Kevah with Rabbi Ari Hart as our educator. The first session focused on understanding biblical texts with a focus on how shmita has evolved over time and what we can learn from comparing and contrasting analysis of different Biblical references. Download the study sheet. With the next shmita year starting Rosh Hashanah 2014, some might ask, why run a shmita study session now? But with less than two years until the next shmita year begins, now is the exact right time to think and plan for that year. As we can’t properly prepare for Shabbat 5 minutes before it begins, we cannot properly plan for the shmita year just as it arrives. So, what is shmita all about? (more…)

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Embracing the Shmita Cycle: A New Year Vision

by Yigal Deutscher The article below is reposted from Tikkun Daily, where it was originally published on September 16, 2012.   The fabric of the entire Jewish cosmology, culture, and story is interwoven with the patterns of cycles. This cycle begins with each of us, in our own bodies, with the rhythm of breath, the rhythm of inhale, exhale, and the moments of stillness and calmness in between each breath. It is this cycle which creates our collective, evolving body. Not just the human body, but the body of Earth, of life itself. We mark time with these movements of transformation, with this cyclical breath of the moon. We count our months and years as her body waxes and wanes, exhales and inhales. It is this cycle which is the same as our own rhythmic breath, our own beating heartbeat and flowing pulse. On this particular Rosh Hashana, while invoking the year 5773, as you complete one yearly lunar cycle and begin a new one, you are invited to recall another cycle, mostly forgotten, but one as old as the Jewish story itself, still unfolding in the undercurrents of our collective subconscious. We are now welcoming in year 5 of a […]

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Omer, Shmita, Fair Food, Sabbatical

The period of counting the omer is drawing to a close. It’s one of the many times that Jewish tradition uses cycles of seven to encourage a balance of work and rest. The most famous, by far, is shabbat itself. I love that the Italian word for Saturday is “sabato.” One of the online Italian-English dictionaries has this: “Saturday is considered the last day of the week in some countries.” By “some countries” I think they mean the State of Israel. It was the Jewish Sabbath, on Saturday, that first marked the day of rest, and as Christianity and then Islam spread across the world, shabbat moved to Sunday or Friday. The lexicographical evidence of its origins has its own charm. I think it’s impossible for most of us to understand how radical the idea of shabbat must have been. We grow up with two-day weekends (a day and a half in Israel, depending on your age), plus public holidays, school vacations, summer vacations, parental leave, disability. None of these existed in the first 100,000 years of biological humanity. Each of them has undergone the arc of a new idea: introduced by someone; considered crazy, ridiculous, impossible; gradually people argued […]

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