The Torah prohibits normal farming of the Land of Israel every seven years. This "Shabbat" for the Land is called "shemita". After every seventh shemita, the fiftieth year, yovel (jubilee), is announced with the sound of the shofar on Yom Kippur. This was also a year for the Land to lie fallow.
Partners in Time
“When you come to the Land which I am giving to you, the Land shall observe a Sabbath rest for
When you look at the letterhead of some law firms you might think you’re reading the New York phone book. It seems like everyone is a junior partner.
In a way, we too want to be junior partners. Junior partners with
How can you have your own space when "His honor fills the world"? How can you have a junior partnership with the One to whom there is no ‘two’?
The religions of the world are based on the premise that you can be a junior partner with
But doesn’t that sound terribly forbidding? Am I nothing more than a cipher? A mindless automaton, following instructions? Where is my space? Where is my individuality?
Nothing can exist in this world without a spark of holiness. Even a bathroom has a spark of holiness — the laws of how one should act there. Nothing can exist without holiness. Holiness is the air that the world breathes. Just like Man cannot exist without air, the world cannot exist without holiness.
The holiness of Shabbat is fixed, immutable. Every seven days we enter a world called Shabbat. It requires no intervention on our part. Shabbat flows down from the upper worlds without our assistance and beyond our control.
The Festivals — Pesach, Shavuot and Succot — are another matter.
In the mitzvah of shemita, (the Sabbatical year for the Land) it says, “When you come to the Land which I am giving to you, the Land shall observe a Shabbat rest for G‑d.” The Land is to observe a Shabbat rest for
Just as there are two types of holiness in the days and the months, Shabbat and of the Festivals, so too there are two types of holiness in the years themselves. The seventh year is a Shabbat of the Land. Its holiness is “fixed” like Shabbat. The holiness of Yovel (the Jubilee year) is like the holiness of the Festivals. Its holiness represents a partnership of
If the shofar is not blown at the beginning of the Yovel year, the year is not a Yovel. If the slaves are not set free, the year is not a Yovel. If the fields do not return to their original owners, the year does not have the status of a Yovel and it is permitted to reap and sow like an ordinary year.
The year of shemita is different. Even if Beit Din fails to sanctify the year as a shemita year, it is nevertheless shemita. Its holiness is fixed. It is independent of Man. Even if the years have not been counted and there has been no cessation of sowing and reaping, the fields are considered ownerless and their produce exempt from tithes.
It is for this reason that shemita is called “a Shabbat of rest for
- Sources: Torat Kohanim, Rosh Hashana 9, Rambam Hilchot Shemita and Yovel, Ch. 26, Meshech Chochma in Iturei Torah