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Shemittah Essays

A selection of reading, essays and insights on the Shemittah year—the once-in-every-seven-years Sabbatical year

The Fiftieth Year
Mundanity, holiness and beyond—a study of the spiritual significance of the Shemittah and Jubilee cycles.
Trust Your Partner
We can talk at great length about our faith in G‑d and our trust in His absolute wisdom, goodness and beneficence. But do we put our money where our mouths are?
Loan Amnesty
The Sabbatical year is associated with two mitzvot: 1) The land must be left unplowed and fallow. 2) All personal debts are canceled. There is a connection between these two precepts.
The Weekly Sabbatical
Faith is measured by actions, as is demonstrated by the Shemittah year—and the weekly Shabbat.
Time Times Seven
If making kiddush and listening to the shofar enhances our relationship with G‑d—as we believe all mitzvot do—why the strict time limitation? Is it not the thought, and the desire to connect, that count more than all else?
It IS His Business
What is the greater wonder—G‑d’s ability to perform miracles, or our ability to trust in them?
The Sabbatical Year: Six Reasons
Six reasons for the Sabbatical year: The soil, a macro-Shabbat, making up for six years of Shabbats, a lesson in faith and humility, unity, and liberation.
The Power of What
We are forever asking: What is the reason? What is the meaning? We ask this question of all commandments and all occurrences, even those we supposedly understand . . .
An Impossible Dream
Imagine someone offers to fulfill any dream, aspiration or fantasy of yours for a full year. It’s likely that the first thing that would come to mind is a paid sabbatical leave . . .
Capitalist or Communist?
What is Judaism’s economic system? Is there one? In promoting free enterprise, the Torah is clearly capitalistic. But it is a conditional capitalism, and certainly a compassionate capitalism.
In my humble opinion—and apparently, Joel, you concur—this is the most difficult of G‑d’s promises to swallow and act upon. But He really means it, and that’s why He is so disturbed by the lack of trust.
The Wakeup Call
Analyzing the details of when, how, who and where the mitzvah was performed provides us with inspiring reflections that enable us to fulfill the mitzvah of Hakhel today.
The Eighth Dimension
With so many "firsts" associated with this day, why does the Torah refer to it -- and by extention, to the entire Parshah -- as "the eighth day"?
Looking Ahead
This week: Ben laughed to himself. How could you think they would rest first? But Mr. Benson didn’t laugh. “Good question,” he said . . .
Judaism and Capitalism
Judaism is about unity: the unity of the one G-d, the universe and the unity of all people created in the image of G-d. And yet, Judaism established a commonwealth, giving the ordinary man an irrevocable right to his own property.
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