It’s a Shmita Year

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Image Description: Fallow land, rows of dirt without plants. Public domain.

For the last year, I’ve been gathering monthly with the Rosh Chodesh Circle, a communion of women who practice spiritual growth together and are informed by the Jewish Renewal Movement. Lucinda Kurtz, my friend and the facilitator, recently shared with us that this is a Shmita Year. That means this is the seventh year in a cycle of seven years. It’s a Sabbath year. Shmita means, “year of release.”

In the Torah, the seventh day of the week is a Sabbath day of rest and renewal, and likewise, the seventh year serves as a Sabbatical year. Debts are to be forgiven, the agricultural land is to lie fallow, and food storage and harvests are to be open and shared by all. This is a time of redistributing resources.

So often, I find myself believing that work, striving, and stress are needed to care for others. Of course, sometimes, these are part of those commitments. But I’m asking myself new questions: Why have I assumed that my own rest and renewal are for myself alone, and therefore, are perhaps selfish? Maybe personal rest and renewal begets rest and renewal among others. And maybe this is something collective in the first place.

What if we released more of our work, striving, and stress in this Shmita year — this very year of release? What could be possible for ourselves and others? And what if let this be a resetting, paradigm shift?

Renee Roederer


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