This one is a little different from the others, but bear with me. In early September, the Jewish people celebrated the Hebrew New Year 5782. It is also a shmita year, a 12-month sabbatical for the planet that takes place every seven years. Described in Leviticus and Deuteronomy, shmita (rhymes with pita) is a year for giving the earth a rest from planting and harvesting and for canceling all debts. Shmita doesn’t predict what will happen in the coming year, but for the growing number of contemporary Jews who choose to honor her, it provides a spiritual framework for reimagining our relationship with Earth and our neighbors.
Nomy Lamm, an artist and kohonet (Hebrew priestess) living in Oregon, said during this year shmita that she was reflecting on how we can collectively prioritize the needs of the natural environment and how that would serve as an antidote to terminal capitalism, settler colonialism and other extractive economic structures. Shmita can also be a call to work for debt cancellation, which would remove much of the stratification from society, she said. On a more personal level, Lamm is spending more time in nature this year and intentionally appreciating the Earth. âWith the climate chaos, there are so many losses,â she said. âIt really feels good to appreciate what we have. “
Ian schiffer, an activist who works with the Nefesh Jewish community, uses the idea of ââshmita (it means “to liberate” in Hebrew) as a way to ponder what it really means to liberate the Earth and put that into action. He was already working to support the indigenous Tongva people before the start of 5782, but the practice of the idea of ââshmita prompted him to work for the effective liberation of local lands for the newly established Tongva Taraxat Paxaavxa Conservancy.
âLearning that every seven years in a cycle older than capitalism, people are supposed to be free, land is supposed to lie fallow or be collectively harvested and debts are written off – I was like, ‘Yes’, did he declare.
Honoring shmita cannot be just an individual pursuit. âIt’s impossible for the earth to rest with one person doing it,â Schiffer said. âWe need to work together to change our relationship with the land. “
His hope is that by the next shmita year in 5789 the Earth will feel like it is resting more.
What could this mean for you in 2022? You can start by asking yourself: what does it mean for you to free the Earth? How can you work with others to help the earth rest more?
You don’t need to see into the future to know it as we step out of liminal space from the pandemic in 2022 (hopefully!) We will be called upon to imagine the future we want to see and start putting those dreams into action. If any of these predictions and frameworks resonate with you, so much the better. If not, that’s OK too. As metaphysical practitioners in LA often say: take what you like and leave the rest.
We wish you a beautiful, meaningful and grounded New Year!