This one is a little different than the others, but carry on with me. In early September, the Jewish people celebrated the Hebrew New Year 5782. It also happens to be a Shmita year, a 12-month sabbatical year for the planet, which takes place every seven years. Described in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, shmita (rhymes on pita) is a year to give the land rest from planting and harvest and to forgive all debt. Shmita does not predict what will happen in the coming year, but for the growing number of contemporary Jews who choose to honor it, it provides a spiritual framework to re-establish our relationship with the Earth and our neighbors.
Nomy Lamm, an artist and raised (Hebrew priestess), living in Oregon, said in this shmita year that she has thought about how we can jointly prioritize the needs of the natural environment and how it would serve as an antidote to the late-stage capitalism, colonialism from settlers and other extractive economic structures. Shmita could also be a call to work towards debt forgiveness, which would remove so much of the stratification of society, she said. On a more personal level, Lamm spends more time in nature this year and in conscious appreciation of the Earth. “With climate chaos, there is so much loss,” she said. “It feels really good to appreciate what we have.”
Ian Schiffer, an activist working for the Jewish community of Nefesh, uses the idea of shmita (meaning “liberation” in Hebrew) as a way of meditating on what it means to truly liberate the Earth and put it into action. He was already working to support the indigenous Tongva people before the beginning of 5782, but the practice of the idea of shmita has pushed him to work towards the actual release of local land back to the newly established Tongva Taraxat Paxaavxa Conservancy.
“By learning that every seven years in a cycle older than capitalism, people are supposed to be free, the land is supposed to lie fallow or be harvested collectively, and debt is forgiven – I was like, ‘Yes,'” he said. .
Honoring shmita cannot be an individual pursuit alone. “It is impossible for the country to rest with only one person doing it,” Schiffer said. “We need to work together to change our relationship with the country.”
His hope is that when the next shmita year comes in 5789, the Earth will feel that it is resting more.
What could it mean for you in 2022? You can start by asking yourself: What does it mean for you to release the Earth? How can you work with others to help the earth rest more?
You do not have to look into the future to know that when we step out of the liminal space of the pandemic in 2022 (hopefully!), We will be called to imagine the future we want to see and to start putting those dreams into practice. If some of these predictions and frameworks resonate with you, great. If not, it’s ok too. As LA metaphysical practitioners often say: Take what you like and leave the rest.
We wish you a beautiful, meaningful and well-founded New Year!