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Message from Hazzan Steve

July 7, 2021


Are you ready to do some letting go?

On Rosh Hashanah, which begins on the evening of September 6th (yup - early!), we enter the year 5782, and 5782 is a shmitta (or shmitah or shmittah) year. Shmitta comes every seven years. The Torah describes shmitta at least a couple of times. We are told that Israelite slaves must be freed in the shmitta year, and all debts owed by Israelites are released or forgiven. This was a serious economic reset. But there is more. In the shmitta year, the agricultural land - farmed fields, vineyards, orchards - has a complete Shabbat, lying fallow. The inhabitants of The Land eat what grows of its own accord, and so do the domestic animals, and so may the wild beasts. One way of looking at this is that we return to the way things were before the first earthlings were beamed up out of the Garden of Eden and set down in the place they came from. “Davar acher”, another perspective - this is about living sustainably, because the Earth itself, or at least the earth with a small E, has a right to its rest every seven years. Yet another perspective – shmitta is about letting go of habitual ways of being.

How might this apply to us, who will be living both in 5782 and in 2021-2022? There is a great deal that Reb Lisa and I (and all of you) will have to say about this as we approach and then live in the shmitta year. For now, I want to say that there are many different possibilities for shmitta in our world in 5782. The shmitta essence of realignment, renewal, rededication, resting can be brought into the way we eat, shop, work, play. In our individual lives, our families, our CBI family, the wider community, our region, our state.... Ripples in a large pond.

Rather than focusing on doing in the shmitta year, we might consider the year-long Shabbat of lying fallow as a precious opportunity to be, and to think, plan, and dream. Then we will have the following six years to engage and to do.

With blessings for a week of health and peace,

Hazzan Steve

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