As Jews living in Israel, we're endowed to uphold the laws of our holy land, including Shmittah.
For six years we farm, buy, and sell land, but for the seventh year, we let the land rest. No farming or using the land for the entire year. We let it rest and give it the chance to rejuvenate. A designated Shabbat for the land.
Next year at Rosh Hashanna, the shmittah year begins. It ends Rosh Hashanna one year later.
This is very significant for many reasons. First , it is a biblical commandment, one of the many instructions we received before entering the Land of Israel. This has been upheld by Jews who have lived in Israel, in one form or another, ever since.
Secondly, it only happens once every seven years, so farmers gear up for this special time a year or so ahead to plan, organize and find solutions to the challenges this sabbatical year presents. Actually, we are taught to use those six years to plant, harvest, collect seeds, stock up and take advantage of lower prices and the abundance of produce , so that we will be prepared for the shmittah year.
The word shmittah means "release". We step back from our farming routines, security of income from our harvests, and the control of the agro-business. We let go. Trust in God that he will take care of us and of His holy land. The ultimate test of faith. Even with all this land available , we are to let it lie fallow and trust that we have done everything necessary to prepare.
This seventh year which will begin in just a few months, requires us to get creative, to find ways to continue to provide sustenance, and livelihoods during this year. We learn to live according to our needs, rather than our whims, we build community by supporting and leaning on each other by helping each other. Orchards and fields are to be left open so that anyone may come and eat.
Just as on shabbat we put down the technology and our busy lives to focus more on spirituality and quiet time, this year has us turn off the tractors and step back from the busy, overtaxing, non-sustainable farming practices and trust in God to provide .
Shmittah, the seventh year, is but one example mentioned in the Torah of the many instances of using the number seven in relation to rest, rejuvenation. (see my blog https://www.nettlesandpins.com/post/the-7-species-and-their-connection for a more complete list . )
One of these stories is when Joseph (actually God through Joseph) interprets Pharoh's dreams to mean there will be seven years of plenty before seven years of famine. Pharoh accepted Joseph's interpretation and put him in charge of successfully preparing Egypt for the famine years . Before this, Joseph had been telling his dreams to his brothers warning them of what is to come. They called him a conspiracy theorist, threw him in a pit , sold him to passing Arabs who eventually sold him into slavery to the Egyptians. And thus begins the redemption. During the seven years of plenty , God provided for Joseph because he never doubted God's word and always had faith in his prophesies...
I am constantly inspired by those who know their purpose in life. Step fully into their power , so much so that nothing can stop them and their mission. One of these is Dr. David Martin. He gave a talk recently about our current times being similar to the times of (Avraham), Noah and Joseph. (i added Avraham). When there is evil and idol worship all around seeming to take over every person, government and belief. Avraham, Joseph and Noah were persecuted, slandered, called names, laughed at and called conspiracy theorists by all those around them, even their loved ones. But they had undying faith in God and they never veered from the path of truth, no matter how hard it became .
While we are in the seven years of plenty, most people won't listen to words of warning. It's easy to scoff and ignore those of us who are warning of what might befall humanity. There has been corruption and evil for decades, but it was out of the way and didn't seem to effect our lifestyle of success and prosperity.
"Corona" changed all that for many of us wise enough to ask questions and challenge authority. It flipped the switch, pulled back the veil and exposed all the ugliness that we didn't want to see. Many still refuse to see the truth, and chose instead, to follow our "leaders" blindly. "Corona" was God's way of getting our attention and finding out which side we're fighting for.
We are now being prepared for the stripping down, pulling back and living according to necessity versus whim. It brought us back down from cloud 9 euphoria to show us a taste of what is coming: Seven years of famine. Perhaps it's already begun. Perhaps it begins with this coming shmittah year. These are just my speculations. I am not an expert and I do not study the planets. I am just following my intuition and the inspirations from my mentors and the Torah.
Dr. Martin referred to Noah and Joseph both, who during the years of plenty, warned of the coming catastrophies and were berated for it . Just as we are standing up and warning those around us of what is to come and we are being called "conspiracy theorists' or being ignored, slandered or discredited. Just like Noah or Joseph who were told through various means of what will befall humanity , we have been given the eyes to se what needs to be shown to the rest of the world. "corona' was our warning and our opportunity to follow truth, light, and God's message or ignore it and be swallowed by darkness.
The "corona" years have felt like seven years. The heaviness, the energy, the struggle, confusion, sadness, distrust and the darkness, all rolled into a very short time. On the other hand it has pushed us into action. Those of us who would rather curl up on the couch rather than face evil, have been pulled out of our comfort zone and shoved into the ring for the fight of our lives. We have come face to face with what must be done. This generation was chosen to fight this fight. It is a spiritual battle, that much is clear. We were being lulled into a trance, too disconnected to care about the unseen forces.
This last year and half was our wake up call to prepare for the seven years of famine that is to come. We can find almost anything right now. Use it wisely, because before long it might not be available. Now is our seven years of plenty. We must prepare spiritually, mentally and physically for our seven years of famine.
This last year has seen a dramatic increase in interest in gardening, independence, connection , DIY's self-education, resourcefulness, and building community. I almost feel that the internet was put in place for this time so that we could survive the lockdowns, isolation, separation and still be able to learn and connect to one another. There are rumblings that 'they' will take it away as part of the "no internet, no electricity, no TV, no refrigeration cyber attack that might happen soon. We were meant to use this tool at this time to prepare, learn and connect.
Our seven years are up. It's time to use our knowledge gained to survive the coming months or years. Just as these last almost two years have felt like seven years, perhaps the next two years will also feel like seven.
I don't know . What I do know is that history repeats itself and the Tanach gives us all the instructions we need if we listen. The stories are meant to guide us and it's wisdom is there to find strength and connection.
We've done this before, we can do it again.
Everything has been laid out at our feet. Everything we need to live, survive, see, know. Beginning with the next Hebrew year, we will find out what it means to get by by skin of our teeth. Did we prepare while we had the chance to do so? Can we learn to live with what we need and no more?
God said , " in the sixth year I will bless your land so that it will provide enough for you for the seventh, eighth and ninth years. " Did we take heed? Did we trust in His word? Will we continue to spread it even though it seems as if it is an uphill battle? This is when we'll learn what we're made of.
This coming shmittah year has the potential to herald a whole new paradigm for our future world. One of love, light and truth. But first we must let God dismantle the old one. It might be a rough ride, but if we've prepared , we'll be ok.
Once we know our homes are secure and stable, it's time to hunker down where we are. Let God take care of the evil, just as he did for the Jews in Egypt and many other times since.
Another clue we have from the Torah is when the Jews complained about being hungry in the desert wilderness and not having enough to eat. God sent mann from heaven to satisfy even the most picky eaters. He said, "Take only enough mann for one day, everyday. But on the sixth day, take a double portion for the shabbat. It is a rest day and you shall not gather on Shabbat ".
This is it people. Bring in your double portion before the shmittah, seventh year, so that we will be provided for during the coming year or years of famine. Pray harder, store food, strengthen your immune systems, collect seeds, find joy, fight harder, everything in double portion.
Yes, I am mixing up stories and no I'm not a rebbitzen. But I feel this book and our heritage within it, holds the secrets. We need to interpret it however it makes sense to us and make it fit into our daily lives. It holds the clues in the stories and the instructions in God's laws and commandments.
We're in for rough waters, but if we've been paying attention and we've taken the necessary action, we'll weather the storm. Use wisdom, common sense and trust in God's teachings and we'll come through whole and enlightened.
( Talia Shneider has an amazing shiur on preparing for shmittah through permaculture. It is part of a course she offers through her teachings in a full course of Jewish Permaculture which connects health, creativity, and Jewish wisdom. We hosted the Preparing for Shmittah video in our 'Return To........ Festival' last Chanukkah. Please check this out, if you haven't seen it....... https://yaarbooks.ravpage.co.il/digitalpermaculture )