“You do not have dominion…”
My favorite summary of what “Shmita” is all about.
Proud plug: Join us Tuesday night, March 1st, if you can, on Zoom, here’s info: https://tinyurl.com/shmitalive.
We’re gathering together for an historically-relevant, action-packed hour of conversation celebrating and featuring thought leaders from National Wildlife Federation (Naomi Edelson), Hazon (Sarah Young), Shmita Project Northwest (Dierdre Gabbay), Dayenu (Nati Passow and Rabbi Laura Bellows), Wilderness Torah (Simcha Schwarz), Congregation Agudas Achim Austin (Rabbi Neil Blumofe), Jewish Earth Alliance (Dr. Mirele Goldsmith), St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institute (Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin), and hopefully, a special guest.
I am producer / moderator.
These people and their organizations are Amazing.
The groundbreaking quote above comes from Austin, TX’s Rabbi Neil Blumofe and it gets at the heart of what makes this event historically-relevant. It’s also why this event is action-packed; the panelists will be sharing and exploring how the Old Testament, Biblical commandments of “shmita” are relevant today.
We are able to do this event because my friend and colleague from some time back, Yaira Robinson, graciously brought this group together for AllCreation.org’s Winter Solstice issue, “Shmita Now,” which she guest edited and I managed (she did all the work).
Here’s my clumsy description: It is the ancient Jewish commandment for cyclical “releases” of debt, agricultural lands, slaves, and occupied lands. It’s also a fascinating way of approaching these society-wide balance questions, today:
- How do we live in balance with the environment?
- What do we do about institutional biases that favor generational poverty?
My understanding is that one of the ways “Shmita/Release” can perhaps be seen today is as a template for maintaining agricultural Abundance forever (how beautiful is that idea?) and making it available to all (poverty solved, in many respects), as well as working together to manage food production cycles according to Nature’s laws, and institutionalizing, if you will, the restoration of equal access to food and basic opportunity, in society. And even perhaps in Nature… As well as just being an instrument for maintaining the peace among the people and with our life-support system, “Biosphere Earth.”
I may be taking that too far?
Another aspect, though… is, Seeing as “Food” and agricultural commodities are central to every one of our modern lives (in self-identification, environmental impacts, how we cloth and beautify and care for our bodies, in our feelings, dreams and rituals, etc., etc.: FOOD and Ag, people), and that engaging globally-strategic “regenerative agriculture” is arguably THE most urgent change priority for the global climate and biodiversity solutions — given all of that, Shmita connects people today to an ancient awareness of, and reverence for, the need to maintain balance, institutionally, with the weave of life that is living Nature and socio-economic opportunity for all. That this is perhaps embedded in the Judeo-Christian Bible is really exciting to me.
Again, I may be taking it too far.
Either way, it is my great honor to host and listen to this group Tuesday night and to encourage every person to engage in re-thinking the “dominion” premise as we think about our Earth-bound future.
We’ll also make this conversation available as a podcast, about a week after.