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Shmitta year: What it means for Israel

  • Broadcast in Judaism
The Ben Solomon show

The Ben Solomon show


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  Starting at Rosh Hashanah, Israel will be going through the Shmitta [Sabbatical] year. Why is that significant? Because it's one way of signifying that Israel [and the world] belongs to G-d. Just as the Jewish people get a rest day one day of the week [Shabbat], the land is to rest every seven years. The Torah gives two reasons to observe Shabbat: to acknowledge G-d as the creator and to remember their liberation form Egypt [Mitzrayim]. Shabbat ultimately sends the Jew two messages: that they acknowledge G-d as the ultimate sovereign and that they're not slaves. And with letting the land rest, it is to acknowledge that the land belongs to G-d. Just as the neshama Yehudi  [Jewish soul] naturally clings to Torah, G-dliness, and mitzvot, the land of Israel is a holy land, as seen even from Jewish law [Halacha]. Even when eating, the Jew acknowledges the holiness of Israel. For instance, for olives and apples, both of which is haetz, olives take priority just by being one of the seven species of fruit that Israel is praised for. And the Shmitta acknowledges G-d as the sovereign. It goes back to what Rashi said, when he said that the reason why the Torah did not begin with the first mitzvah, but with the creation of the world, was so then Israel can say that G-d ultimately gave the land to them if the other nations accuse Israel of stealing Canaanite land. Just as Shabbat is something from G-d that's out of this world, so too, Shmitta is something from G-d out of this world. The difference is that whereas the Jew goes by days, Eretz Yisrael [the Land of Israel] goes by years. But it's still the same principle. Shmitta also teaches that just as Klal Yisrael [the community of Israel] is holy, the land is also holy as well and is not merely something to be walked on and taken for granted.