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What is Shmittah?

by Rabbi Tzvi Shapiro

  

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Shmittah is the original Sabbatical.

The Torah1 tells us "for six years you shall plant your fields... but in the seventh year the land should have complete rest, a Shabbat to G-d".

G-d created the world and then created man to maintain and perfect it. Progress and production is a partnership between G-d and mankind. G-d provides the raw materials, mankind works, and then G-d blesses his effort.

In a physical world caught up in materialism Man's work is quite evident, but in the rush and race for survival G-d's involvement often gets overlooked.

Unless we make an effort to focus. To stop, step aside, and set a time for observation and introspection. Thus Shmittah is to agriculture what Shabbat is to the working life: a G-dly devised reminder of what it’s all really about.

Every seventh day, we reorient: Shabbat. And every seventh year, we reaffirm: Shmittah.

Like Shabbat, Shmittah is a Divine mandate for obligated rest, which follows a universal cycle. On the designated Shabbat day we retreat from work, and during the designated Shmittah year we retreat from our fields.2

The Torah3 tells us that if we observe the Shmittah properly G-d will bless the efforts of the sixth year, resulting in enough produce for the next three years.

See also When is Shmittah? and How is Shmittah observed?

Footnotes

  • 1. Leviticus 25:3-4
  • 2. Shmittah is only applicable in Biblical Israel, earth and fields belonging to "the land which G-d's eyes are upon from beginning of the year until the end of year".
  • 3. Leviticus 25:21

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RELATED CATEGORIES

Mitzvot » Agriculture Related

Shabbat
(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.