Saturday, November 3, 2007

On Shmita


Shmita, or the Sabbatical year, is a biblical practice, with origins in the Torah. The concept of Shmita, as I understand it, is the practice of refraining to farm a given land every seven years, and of forgiving (or settling) debts every seven years. The origins or the practice have derived from the following passages of the Torah, and later expanded by the rabbinic sages:
Exodus 23:10
And six years you shall sow your land, and gather in the increase thereof; but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of thy people may eat; and what they leave the beast of the field shall eat. In like manner you shall deal with thy vineyard, and with thy oliveyard.
From the above passage, it has been derived that:
1. Farmers must refrain from working in their farms every seven years.
2. Whatever fruits that happen to grow of their own accord would be consumed by the farmer, the poor and by animals.

The Torah further explains elsewhere the following:
Leviticus 25:11 And HaShem spoke unto Moses in mount Sinai, saying:
Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them: When you come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a Sabbath unto HaShem. Six years you sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in the produce thereof. But in the seventh year shall be a Sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a Sabbath unto HaShem; you shall neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard. That which grows of itself of your harvest you shall not reap, and the grapes of thy undressed vine you shall not gather; it shall be a year of solemn rest for the land. And the Sabbath-produce of the land shall be for food for you: for you, and for your servant and for your maid, and for your hired servant and for the settler by thy side that sojourn with you; and for your cattle, and for the beasts that are in your land, shall all the increase thereof be for food.
From the above passage we learn that:
1. The law of Shmita is given at Mount Sinai.
2. The law of Shmita applies only to the land of Israel and not elsewhere (derived from the second sentence “when you come into the land…”
3. On the seventh year, much as the Sabbath, no work is allowed on the land.
4. The random produce of an untilled land should be food for the farmer and also for the poor as well as for wild animals.

Furthermore, the sages have declared that the law of shmita also applies to monetary debts such that at the end of Shmita year, all debts are nullified.
The concept of shmita is fascinating and it provides for much commentary. It provide lots to analyze for the skeptical such as I. I wanted to summarize the law of the Sabbatical year to the best of my ability first, before delving into the consequences of these laws. From the knowledgeable reader I ask to read the above summary and find inaccuracies. If I have failed to summarize the laws accurately, I would appreciate some guidance. In the coming blogs I will try to analyze these laws…

24 comments:

Robin said...

Please visit http://shemittahrediscovered.blogspot.com

(Read especially the beginning posts of the formation of the blog. I"d be interested in feedback(\)

badrabbi said...

Robin,

I read with utter fascination the posts in your blog. In particular, the introductory explanation for your post is remarkable to say the least.

I must admit that I am at a total loss of how you can be relating events such as the explosion of the space shuttle to the observance of the Shmita. I would love to hear an explanation.

Robin said...

bs"d

badrabbi, amv"sh

http://shemittahrediscovered.blogspot.com/2006/03/yahrzeit-ilan-ramon.html
I'd be interested in hearing your comments.

badrabbi said...

Robin;

For me, Ilan Ramon has been a source of pride. A scientist and astronaut, he exemplified a Jewish life. His death was a blow to Jews around the world.

But, I do not understand how you are relating his death and the explosion of the space shuttle with the issues of Shemitah. As I understand it, Shemitah has to do with rules relating, among other things, to farming in Israel. How is a space shuttle mission, blasting off of the United States relating to Shemitah?

Having read a few of your posts, I am convinced that you are unusually bright and write magnificently. I thus do not take you for a fool or a kook. I, do, therefore, respectfully ask that you indulge me, step by step, and relate the two issues together. I would appreciate it if you refrain from simply linking to another page, as I am not quite sure what part of it is referring to an explanation that I am seeking.

Robin said...

I am getting error messages posting to you.

Robin said...

bs"d

That last comment went through. Please visit the link to Ilan Ramon. please read through it. It explains the connection.

badrabbi said...

Robin;

Unfortunately, once again you have linked to another post, a long one at that, in which you are relating Mr. Ramon with Shemitah. Again, I must say that I do not see the connection, even having read your link. How is Shemita related to the astronaut?

It is interesting that in your blog you also write:
"Which commandment are we not observing properly today? I believe that performance of the Mitzva of Shemittah as specified in the Torah, is the answer."

I agree with you that the laws of Shemitah are not being followed by contemporary Jews. I would also add that a vast number of laws are also being ignored. For example, all the laws related to animal sacrifice, laws of Yom Kippur, etc, are not being observed. An analysis of the Torah reveals that we are failing to observe about 40% of all that is perscribed by the Torah. I therefore am wondering what is your fixation on this particular Halakha!

Robin said...

bs'd

Dear Goodrabbi, amv"sh

The link is the passages of Torah requested by Ilan Ramon. It talks of doing Teshuva. This passage is read on Tisha Baav, the yahrzeit of many tragedies including Gush Katif. Why did the mission fail? Especially over Palestine? Why was Ilan so fixated on Shabbat (asking how it was possible to keep Shabbat in space, bringing a Kiddush cup etc. Why did he even bring a Torah to space? If he did all that good why did G-d not do some miracle to save his life rather than allow him to die this tragic death. Apparently, in spite of all the good he represented it still fell short. It's great he wished to connect to our roots to his being a Jew but that connection was not strong enough. It's not his fault by any means but the fault of our generation. The reality is that one can not really keep Torah in space. At least not Shabbat. True, 40% using your figure, as you suggest we can not keep on earth because we don't have a Temple. Yet, Shemittah is a Mitzva that is doable w/o a temple and without a King. It is unexplored territory. We must strive to keep what we can keep and pray that G-d will eventually open up new doors. For 2,000 we were not a sovereign State and were unable to keep Shemittah. Finally,we are, yet we so stupidly agree to give it away. Where is our desire to keep the Mitzvoth? Especially Shemittah which is linked to security and staying on the Land. The time will come G-d willing soon, that we will somehow know which tribe we belong to, which parcel of land is our inheritance and we will rebuild the Beit Hamikdash and will be able to bring Karbanot. Temple Institute and Ateret Kohanim study such topics so that we will be ready to observe these commandments as soon as we are enabled.

I believe that Shemittah is doable for our day and is the key to security. Ilan means tree and Ramon sounds like Rimon which means pomegranit. A pomegranit, one of the holy fruits of Israel has many seeds that is equiv. to the 613 Mitzvoth. What better tribute to Ilan Ramon than to study the Mitzva of Shemittah which is Shabbat Haaretz that is equivalent to all of the 613 Mitzvoth the entire Torah?

badrabbi said...

Robin;

There is much that you have said in your email. Your statements require unraveling, point by point, in order to illustrate the special thinking on your part. Perhaps I will devote a blog to dealing with your email. For now, for the sake of brevity, I will simply comment on the following:

“Ilan means tree and Ramon sounds like Rimon which means pomegranit….”

Your reasoning is that since the astronaut’s name is “Ilan”, which means “tree”, that somehow the name is referring to Shemitah! And further, you say that “Ramon” sounds like “rimon” which is pomegranate, which symbolizes the 613 mitzvahs! Therefore, you conclude, Ilan Ramon must have lived and died in relation to the concept of the Shemitah!

Robin, again, I have read some of your blogs, and find you to be an extraordinarily intelligent woman. I find your writing style to be elegant and sophisticated. I am at a loss, therefore, to find the logic of your statements so astonishingly lacking.

First, because his name is the Hebrew equivalent of “tree” his life must therefore be related to Shemitah? Does it follow that someone’s name defines the purpose of his life? Have you Robin, dedicated your life to batman? Is it your observation that one name defines her life?

Furthermore, having the name of “tree” does not relate to the laws of shemitah. As you well know, the laws of shemitah are complicated and are at best only peripherally related to trees! Only if someone desperately wants to relate an event to a person would she do this. Consider the following:

“Robin is related to batman, who deals with silk. Therefore, her life is about oppression of the caterpillar at the hand of the silk makers!”

I would make such an absurd statement only if I wanted desperately relate you to my cause.

Second, to say that Ramon “sounds like” Rimon is, again, a reach. Ramon also sounds like “Roman”. Perhaps the astronauts life is about glorifying the Roman empire! Or perhaps, given that “Ramon” sounds like a Spanish name, the honor of this man’s career should go to Spain!

Finally, you relate the 613 Mitzvahs to the pomegranate, and go on further to make the unjustified statement that the Mitzvah of the Shemitah is equal to all the other Mitzvahs. What makes you say that?

In short, unfortunately, and with all due respect, your logic is severely lacking in these statements.

Robin said...

Robin;

There is much that you have said in your email. Your statements require unraveling, point by point, in order to illustrate the special thinking on your part. Perhaps I will devote a blog to dealing with your email. For now, for the sake of brevity, I will simply comment on the following:

“Ilan means tree and Ramon sounds like Rimon which means pomegranit….”

Your reasoning is that since the astronaut’s name is “Ilan”, which means “tree”, that somehow the name is referring to Shemitah! And further, you say that “Ramon” sounds like “rimon” which is pomegranate, which symbolizes the 613 mitzvahs! Therefore, you conclude, Ilan Ramon must have lived and died in relation to the concept of the Shemitah!

HOW DID I CONCLUDE THAT? I SUGGESTED THAT A TRIBUTE TO ILAN RAMON AFTER HIS DEATH WOULD BE THE STUDY OF THE MITZVAH OF SHEMITTAH. FOR AN ELEVATION OF HIS SOUL. IT WAS MERELY A SUGGESTION OF ONE WAY WE COULD MEMORIALIZE HIS LIFE.

Robin, again, I have read some of your blogs, and find you to be an extraordinarily intelligent woman. I find your writing style to be elegant and sophisticated. I am at a loss, therefore, to find the logic of your statements so astonishingly lacking.

NOT YOUR HONEY AND NOT YOUR STING

First, because his name is the Hebrew equivalent of “tree” his life must therefore be related to Shemitah?

I NEVER SAID THAT. I DOUBT IN HIS LIFETIME HE EVEN THOUGHT ABOUT THE MITZVAH OF SHEMITTAH

Does it follow that someone’s name defines the purpose of his life?

A PERSON'S NAME HOWEVER REFLECTS ON HIS ESSENCE.
Have you Robin, dedicated your life to batman? Is it your observation that one name defines her life?

Furthermore, having the name of “tree” does not relate to the laws of shemitah. As you well know, the laws of shemitah are complicated and are at best only peripherally related to trees! Only if someone desperately wants to relate an event to a person would she do this. Consider the following:

“Robin is related to batman, who deals with silk. Therefore, her life is about oppression of the caterpillar at the hand of the silk makers!”

I would make such an absurd statement only if I wanted desperately relate you to my cause.

Second, to say that Ramon “sounds like” Rimon is, again, a reach. Ramon also sounds like “Roman”. Perhaps the astronauts life is about glorifying the Roman empire! Or perhaps, given that “Ramon” sounds like a Spanish name, the honor of this man’s career should go to Spain!

Finally, you relate the 613 Mitzvahs to the pomegranate, and go on further to make the unjustified statement that the Mitzvah of the Shemitah is equal to all the other Mitzvahs. What makes you say that?

SHABBAT IS KENEGED ALL THE MITZVOTH IN THE TORAH. AFTER MY SHEMITTAH EXPERIENCE I BELIEVE THIS IS TRUE BECAUSE IN THE SHEMITTAH YEAR WE DON'T KEEP CERTAIN MITZVOTH. IT CAUSES A KIND OF CHAOS. AFTER THE YEAR WE REALLY APPRECIATE ALL THE MITZVOTH AND THEN GAIN TRUE UNDERSTANDING WHY ALL THE MITZVOTH INCLUDING REPAYING OF LOANS AND OWNERSHIP LAWS ARE SO NECESSARY FOR THE PEACEFUL AND SMOOTH RUNNING OF SOCIETY.

In short, unfortunately, and with all due respect, your logic is severely lacking in these statements.

Post a comment.

badrabbi said...

HOW DID I CONCLUDE THAT? I SUGGESTED THAT A TRIBUTE TO ILAN RAMON AFTER HIS DEATH WOULD BE THE STUDY OF THE MITZVAH OF SHEMITTAH. FOR AN ELEVATION OF HIS SOUL.

My mistake, sorry. I thought that you were somehow relating Mr. Ramon Ilan to the Shemitah. I am understanding now that you simply wish to elevate his soul through the mitzvah. That is fair enough.

I am curious though. Would it be equally valid if I wanted to elevate his neshama through the mitsvah of, say, tsedaka (charity)? Or is there something special connecting Mr. Ilan and Shemitah?

By the way, I was not buttering you up with honey in order to sting you. I meant what I said in that I truly enjoy you blog entries and look forward to reading your contributions.

Robin said...

BS"D

MY COMMENTS ARE UPPERCASE TO DIFFERENTIATE.
My mistake, sorry. I thought that you were somehow relating Mr. Ramon Ilan to the Shemitah. I am understanding now that you simply wish to elevate his soul through the mitzvah. That is fair enough.

I am curious though. Would it be equally valid if I wanted to elevate his neshama through the mitsvah of, say, tsedaka (charity)? Or is there something special connecting Mr. Ilan and Shemitah?

DEFINITELY, ILAN WAS CONNECTED TO HIS ROOTS ON EARTH. HE SAW HIMSELF AS ISRAEL'S REPRESENTATIVE AND NOT SIMPLY AN ASTRONAUT. OUR ROOTS GO BACK TO OUR FOREFATHERS AVRAHAM YITZCHOK AND YAAKOV. OUR FOREFATHERS WERE PROMISED THE LAND OF ISRAEL EACH INDIVIDUALLY FROM G-D. IT WAS PROMISED TO ABRAHAM AND THEN AGAIN TO ISAAC AND THEN AGAIN TO JACOB ON CONDITION THAT WE FOLLOW THE COMMANDMENTS. THE COMMANDMENTS WERE GIVEN AT SINAI. THE MITZVAH OF SHEMITTAH HAS THE SPIRIT OF SHABBAT, DEPENDANT ON THE LAND OF ISRAEL WHICH WAS PROMISED TO OUR FOREFATHERS AND IT'S REWARD IS SECURITY OF THE LAND. THE PRODUCE OF THE LAND HAS KEDUSHAT SHVIIT, SANCTITY OF THE 7TH YEAR. ILAN RAMON SHOWED THAT HE CARED DEEPLY FOR ALL OF THE ABOVE. HE BROUGHT A TORAH AND A KIDDUSH CUP INTO SPACE, ASKED HIS RABBIS HOW TO OBSERVE SHABBAT IN SPACE AND THE SPACE SHUTTLE DISINGEGRATED OVER PALESTINE TEXAS. THERE WAS A TEAM OF 7.
By the way, I was not buttering you up with honey in order to sting you. I meant what I said in that I truly enjoy you blog entries and look forward to reading your contributions.

I CAN'T THINK OF ANY MITZVAH THAT IS THE EPITOME OF TZADAKA MORE THAN SHEMITTAH. WE RECOGNIZE THAT ALL IS FROM G-D AND WE ARE ALL EQUAL IN THE SHEMITTAH YEAR. THERE IS NO RICH AND NO POOR SINCE ALL FIELDS ARE OPEN TO ALL. THERE IS THE SPECIAL MITZVAH OF PATOACH TIFTACH OF OPENING UP YOUR HAND TO THE POOR. EACH OF US IS POOR IN SOME AREA. I BELIEVE IT IS A YEAR WHERE EACH INDIVIDUAL WILL STRENGTHEN HIS/HER AREA OF WEAKNESS DUE TO THE GENEROSITY OF HIS FELLOW JEW TRYING TO KEEP THIS MITZVAH.

THANKS! SHABBAT SHALOM! KOL TUV.

badrabbi said...

DEFINITELY, ILAN WAS CONNECTED TO HIS ROOTS ON EARTH.
We all have roots on earth. I am not certain of the meaning of this statement.

HE SAW HIMSELF AS ISRAEL'S REPRESENTATIVE AND NOT SIMPLY AN ASTRONAUT.

I agree.

OUR ROOTS GO BACK TO OUR FOREFATHERS AVRAHAM YITZCHOK AND YAAKOV. OUR FOREFATHERS WERE PROMISED THE LAND OF ISRAEL EACH INDIVIDUALLY FROM G-D.

I must say that whatever a God did not did not promise us is immaterial. We obtained the land of Israel with the blood of our beloved young men and women. It is the height of arrogance for me to sacrifice my blood and toil in order to win back my nation, and have God come along and say "I promised it to you, so here it is"!

If God wants to give us a gift, then I would appreciate it if it were given in a platter.

IT WAS PROMISED TO ABRAHAM AND THEN AGAIN TO ISAAC AND THEN AGAIN TO JACOB ON CONDITION THAT WE FOLLOW THE COMMANDMENTS.

Well, the fact is that the Torah was given hundreds of years after the promise was made to Abraham and progeny. It is hard to carry out a contract such that the terms of the contract would not be made clear hundreds of years later. Imagine I sold you the house and told you that in 5 years I will tell you what I want as price for the house. No contract would be valid under these circumstances. God's promise, therefore, similarly is not enforceable.

THE COMMANDMENTS WERE GIVEN AT SINAI.

Yes, hundreds of years after the promise was made to Abraham.

THE MITZVAH OF SHEMITTAH HAS THE SPIRIT OF SHABBAT, DEPENDANT ON THE LAND OF ISRAEL WHICH WAS PROMISED TO OUR FOREFATHERS...

I agree that Shemitah is similar to Shabbat. I do not, however, understand why the Mitzvah is dependent on the land of Israel. Again, Shabbat is kept everywhere. Why not the Shemitah?

AND IT'S REWARD IS SECURITY OF THE LAND.

No, the security of the land is the reward of a strong and ready army in the IDF. Do not delude yourself, Robin. When the Romans trampled on our lands, slaughtering and disemboweling us at will, we were practicing Shemitah. The latter offers no security.

THE PRODUCE OF THE LAND HAS KEDUSHAT SHVIIT, SANCTITY OF THE 7TH YEAR.

Ok.

ILAN RAMON SHOWED THAT HE CARED DEEPLY FOR ALL OF THE ABOVE.
Robin, with all due respect, I have now asked a fourth time for you to show me how Ramon Ilan has "cared deeply" for all of the above. What makes you think that he even cared at all?

HE BROUGHT A TORAH AND A KIDDUSH CUP INTO SPACE, ASKED HIS RABBIS HOW TO OBSERVE SHABBAT IN SPACE AND THE SPACE SHUTTLE

That shows that he was Jewish and wanted to observe some of the Jewish rites. SO?

DISINGEGRATED OVER PALESTINE TEXAS.
The path of the Shuttle took it over Palestine, yes. However, if you look at the wreckage, you would see that there were strewn into neighboring towns as well. For example, there is a town nearby called “Harmony”, where some wreckage was found. Will you be modifying your theory to include this as well? Why do you place so much emphasis on the fact that the disaster occurred over Palestine Texas? I think that if God wanted to make a point, he would have directed the Shuttle to crash in an Israeli farm that violated the Shemitah rule!


THERE WAS A TEAM OF 7.

LOL. ROFL. SO?

Robin said...

bs"d

I see that you are a tough customer. Obviously I am working with assumptions that you aren't.

DEFINITELY, ILAN WAS CONNECTED TO HIS ROOTS ON EARTH.
We all have roots on earth. I am not certain of the meaning of this statement.

ASSUMPTION: NAMES REFLECT THE INNER ESSENCE OF A PERSON. APPARENTLY YOU DON'T ATTRIBUTE ANY SIGNIFICANCE TO A NAME OR NUMBER AND THEREFORE CALL YOURSELF BAD RABBI. PLEASE CHANGE YOUR NAME TO GOOD RABBI AND I BELIEVE IT WILL HAVE AN EFFECT ON THE WAY YOU ACT OR SPEAK. BUT I CAN'T CONVINCE YOU IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE IN THIS GIVEN.

ILAN MEANS TREE, RAMON HAS THE SAME HEBREW CONSONENTS AS RIMON WHICH IS A POMEGRANITE. YOU MAY SCOFF AT THIS BUT I BELIEVE THAT EVERY WORD AND LETTER IN THE HEBREW LANGUAGE HAS TREMENDOUS SIGNIFICANCE. APPARENTLY YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE THE SAME GIVEN SO YOU DON'T COME TO THE SAME CONCLUSIONS.

TRUE WE ALL HAVE ROOTS ON EARTH BUT CONSIDERING ILAN RIMON WAS AN ASTRONAUT HIS NAME HAS EXTRA SIGNIFICANCE IN TRYING TO EXPLAIN WHY WHEN WE ARE LOOKING FOR A SPECIAL MITZVA TO MEMORIALIZE HIM, WE PICK ONE THAT HAS TO DO WITH EARTH AND TREES AND POMEGRANITS.

HE SAW HIMSELF AS ISRAEL'S REPRESENTATIVE AND NOT SIMPLY AN ASTRONAUT.

I agree.

OUR ROOTS GO BACK TO OUR FOREFATHERS AVRAHAM YITZCHOK AND YAAKOV. OUR FOREFATHERS WERE PROMISED THE LAND OF ISRAEL EACH INDIVIDUALLY FROM G-D.

I must say that whatever a God did not did not promise us is immaterial. We obtained the land of Israel with the blood of our beloved young men and women.

WHAT G-D PROMISES IS THE KEY. ANOTHER FUNDAMENTAL GIVEN YOU MAY NOT ACCEPT. G-D IS FAITHFUL TO KEEP HIS PROMISES. THIS IS THE PROMISE MOST QUOTED BY CHRISTIANS AND IT IS WRITTEN IN THE TORAH AFTER THE DELUGE. THE ENTIRE WORLD, JEWS AND NON JEWS ARE DESCENDANTS OF NOAH WHO SURVIVED THE DELUGE.

It is the height of arrogance for me to sacrifice my blood and toil in order to win back my nation, and have God come along and say "I promised it to you, so here it is"!

YOU FORGET ONE SMALL THING. THE PROMISE WAS CONTINGENT ON KEEPING COMMANDMENTS IN THE TORAH. PERHAPS G-D HAS NO CHOICE BUT TO GRANT US OUR GIFT AS A RESULT OF JEWISH HUMAN BLOOD AND TEARS BECAUSE WE HAVE FAILED TO KEEP COMMANDMENTS PROPERLY. MAYBE BLOOD IS THE PRICE G-D WANTS BUT LET IT BE WITH BLOOD OF THE BRIS MILA. JABOTINSKY WARNED JEWS IN EUROPE TO LEAVE AND TO GO TO THE PROMISED LAND. WE SHOULD HAVE JUMPED AT THE OPPORTUNITY. INSTEAD MOST RABBINIC LEADERS CHOSE TO STAY IN EUROPE AND DENOUNCED SECULAR ZIONISM. WHY DIDN'T THEY RUN WITH THE CHANCE TO FINALLY GO TO THE PROMISED LAND SO THAT THE NATION OF ISRAEL CAN OBSERVE THE COMMANDMENTS. MAYBE WE WERE REQUIRED TO CONQUER THE LAND AND THE BLOOD MIGHT HAVE BEEN OUR ENEMIES INSTEAD OF OURS. NOT THAT I AM BLOOD THIRSTY OF MY ENEMIES BLOOD BUT WE ARE REQUIRED SIMPLY TO KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS WHICH INCLUDE CONQUERING THE LAND OF ISRAEL AND EXPELLING THE INHABITANTS THAT REBEL AGAINST OUR SOVEREIGNTY. THE BIBLE SAYS MANY THINGS THAT SOUND RACIST OR SUBVERSIVE BUT ANOTHER GIVEN IS THAT THE TORAH IS EMES, TRUTH AND JUSTICE AND G-D'S LAW THAT WILL BENEFIT ALL OF MANKIND.
If God wants to give us a gift, then I would appreciate it if it were given in a platter.

ERETZ YISROEL NIKNES BEYISURIM. THE LAND OF ISRAEL IS BOUGHT WITH HARDSHIPS. IT IS SO THAT WE WILL LOVE THE LAND AND APPRECIATE HER MUCH MORE.

IT WAS PROMISED TO ABRAHAM AND THEN AGAIN TO ISAAC AND THEN AGAIN TO JACOB ON CONDITION THAT WE FOLLOW THE COMMANDMENTS.

Well, the fact is that the Torah was given hundreds of years after the promise was made to Abraham and progeny. It is hard to carry out a contract such that the terms of the contract would not be made clear hundreds of years later. Imagine I sold you the house and told you that in 5 years I will tell you what I want as price for the house. No contract would be valid under these circumstances. God's promise, therefore, similarly is not enforceable.

APPARENTLY G-D SAYS THAT ABRAHAM HAS DONE TZEDEK AND MISHPAT AS AN INDIVIDUAL. HE TAUGHT HIS OFFSPRING TO DO THE SAME. ONLY AT SINAI DID WE BECOME A NATION RATHER THAN SIMPLY A GROUP OF INDIVIDUALS. ANOTHER GIVEN IS THAT THE FOREFATHERS HAD KNOWLEDGE OF THE TORAH AS DID SHEM THE SON OF NOAH. APPARANTLY THE WORLD WAS INCAPABLE OF KEEPING THE TORAH SO G-D CHOSE ABRAHAM AND HIS DESCENDANTS THROUGH HIS CHILDREN ISAAC AND JACOB TO BE THE PROGENITORS OF THOSE THAT ARE TO BE THE MODEL FOR THE REST OF THE WORLD TO EMULATE. THE FOREFATHERS WERE NOT OBLIGATED IN KEEPING ALL THE COMMANDMENTS. THE OBLIGATIONS STARTED AT SINAI.

THE COMMANDMENTS WERE GIVEN AT SINAI.

Yes, hundreds of years after the promise was made to Abraham.

YES WHEN THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL TURNED INTO THE NATION OF ISRAEL

THE MITZVAH OF SHEMITTAH HAS THE SPIRIT OF SHABBAT, DEPENDANT ON THE LAND OF ISRAEL WHICH WAS PROMISED TO OUR FOREFATHERS...

I agree that Shemitah is similar to Shabbat. I do not, however, understand why the Mitzvah is dependent on the land of Israel.

SEE VAYIKRA/LEVITICUS 25:2 THE MITZVA OF SHEMITTAH IS IN THE LAND OF ISRAEL


Again,Shabbat is kept everywhere. Why not the Shemitah?

REFER TO THE ABOVE VERSES. THE TORAH IS THE SOURCE OF THE MITZVA.

AND IT'S REWARD IS SECURITY OF THE LAND.


No, the security of the land is the reward of a strong and ready army in the IDF.

LEVITICUS 25:18 yOU SHALL PERFORM MY DECREES,AND OBSERVE MY ORDINANCES AND OBSERVE THEM, THEN YOU SHALL DWELL SECURELY IN THE LAND. THIS PASSAGE IS RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PASSAGES REGARDING THE SHEMITTAH YEAR.

Do not delude yourself, Robin. When the Romans trampled on our lands, slaughtering and disemboweling us at will, we were practicing Shemitah.

ACTUALLY THE RABBIS TELL US THAT 70 YEARS OF EXILE BETWEEN THE FIRST AND SECOND TEMPLE CORRESPONDS TO 70 YEARS OF NOT HAVING KEPT SHEMITTAH PROPERLY. APPARANTLY THERE IS A DISCUSSION ABOUT WHETHER SHEMITTAH WAS EVER KEPT PROPERLY. GO BACK 490 YEARS FROM THE DESTRUCTION OF THE 1ST TEMPLE AND YOU WILL FIND YOURSELF IN THE TIME PERIOD OF THE SHOFTIM BEFORE KINGS.

The latter offers no security.

ARE YOU CONTRADICTING THE WORDS OF TORAH? THE PROBLEM APPARENTLY IS THAT YOU DON'T BELIEVE IN THE VERACITY OF THE WORDS OF TORAH. DO YOU BELIEVE THAT THEY ARE DIVINE? THAT IS A GIVEN AS WELL.

THE PRODUCE OF THE LAND HAS KEDUSHAT SHVIIT, SANCTITY OF THE 7TH YEAR.

Ok.

ILAN RAMON SHOWED THAT HE CARED DEEPLY FOR ALL OF THE ABOVE.
Robin, with all due respect, I have now asked a fourth time for you to show me how Ramon Ilan has "cared deeply" for all of the above. What makes you think that he even cared at all?

IF HE DIDN'T CARE HE WOULD NOT HAVE BROUGHT THOSE ITEMS INTO SPACE.

HE BROUGHT A TORAH AND A KIDDUSH CUP INTO SPACE, ASKED HIS RABBIS HOW TO OBSERVE SHABBAT IN SPACE AND THE SPACE SHUTTLE

That shows that he was Jewish and wanted to observe some of the Jewish rites. SO?

WHAT IS A JEWISH RITE? IS A JEWISH RITE THE SAME AS EATING CHICKEN SOUP ON THE SABBATH?

HE IS CONNECTING WITH THE TORAH WHICH NOT SIMPLY A JEWISH RITE.

DISINGEGRATED OVER PALESTINE TEXAS.
The path of the Shuttle took it over Palestine, yes. However, if you look at the wreckage, you would see that there were strewn into neighboring towns as well. For example, there is a town nearby called “Harmony”, where some wreckage was found.

THANK YOU. THAT IS VERY SYMBOLIC IF ONE IS OPEN TO SEEING IT. THERE IS NO HARMONY IN THE WORLD AND DESTRUCTION IN HARMONY IS THE RESULT
Will you be modifying your theory to include this as well?

I JUST DID

Why do you place so much emphasis on the fact that the disaster occurred over Palestine Texas? I think that if God wanted to make a point, he would have directed the Shuttle to crash in an Israeli farm that violated the Shemitah rule!

G-D GIVES US FREEDOM OF CHOICE. WE ARE TO READ THE TORAH AND MAKE CHOICES. IF IT WAS SO OBVIOUS THERE WOULD BE NO FREEDOM OF CHOICE.


THERE WAS A TEAM OF 7.

NOTHING IS HAPPENSTANCE AND THEN NUMBER 7 IS NOT JUST A LUCKY NUMBER IN GAMBLING. IT REPRESENTS HOLINESS. BUT THEN AGAIN IT'S SOMETHING THAT IS A GIVEN.

badrabbi said...

Robin;

As usual, you have said much, and it is difficult to respond to it all. If I may summarize the thrust of your arguments, though you seem to be saying the following:
1. The Torah is the divine word of God
2. The rule of Shemitah is one such divine rule to be found in the Torah
3. The rule of Shemitah seems to be important beyond any other rule in the Torah
There are also some miscellaneous statements that you have made that also have piqued my interest. They are as follows:
4. Every person’s name captures the ‘essence’ of the person.
5. God preserves the freedom of choice by keeping his signs vague


Let me deal with these five issues in order. First, truth be told, I do not believe that the Torah is the divine word of God. I am not sure how many of my blog entries you have read, but I hope this does not come as a shock to you. I must say, though, that for the purposes of my blog, I do not question either God’s existence or even the Torah’s divine provenance. These topics are dealt with elsewhere much better than I could deal with them. Rather, my purpose is to analyze the Torah, as if it were the word of God, and try to glean information from it. I am honest about what the Torah is saying, and I am not afraid to allow logic to sift through the information that the Torah purveys. It is my contention that the rabbis of old and the rabbis of new have perverted the Torah’s teachings, often grotesquely. Much of what is said in the Torah is either ignored or even maligned in the orthodox Jewish community. It is interesting that we parade the Torah in our synagogue every Shabbat, rush to kiss it, and yet we ignore most of edicts. It is my purpose to bring this fact to light.

The second point that you raise is that the Shemitah is a deeply rooted Torah teaching. I completely agree with you here. I have focused on the Shemitah precisely because it is a clear edict by God, who states in no uncertain terms what needs to be with our land and with our debts every seven years. Yet we huff and we puff and we do our best to ignore the rule. We invent Pruzbals and we come up with “legal fictions” to find ways around this rule. The rule of Shemitah, therefore, serves as a perfect example for our (Orthodox Judaism’s) obfuscation of direct Torah commands.

Third, you must admit that there is no apparent hierarchy in the Torah. There are apparently 613 Mitzvah’s enumerated in the Torah. There is, however, no grid that delineates which of these Mitzvahs is more important then the other. The commandment not to kill appears next to the commandment not to Idol worship. There is no indication that one commandment is more important than the next. Thus, your assertion that the Shemitah rule is more important than any other rule in the Torah is puzzling. How have you come to know this? The Shemitah rule is more important than, say, the commandment not to murder? If so, why?

Fourth, regarding the name of someone capturing the essence of the person, I can only read your comments with amusement. While it is clear that each set of parents have something in mind at the time of naming its newborn child, it is a stretch to say the least, to claim that the name captures the essence of the child. Again, how do you know?

It is often easy after the fact to make judgments about a name. Ilan means a tree, so lets link Mr. Ilan to the earth somehow! Let me ask you a question, Robin: I have a friend named “Mark”. Can you please tell me what the essence of “Mark” is? I await your insights…

Fifth, the notion that that once God’s existence becomes more of a certainty that somehow that limits our freedom of choice is absurd. Of course, if I had some way of knowing that there is a God watching over me, then I would strive to become what God wants me to become. So? What is wrong with that? How does that lessen my freedom of choice? In this forum, it is difficult to unravel your argument that God hides purposefully to prove a means of preserving freedom of choice. I would simply ask you to clear your mind of biases for a minute and think about things honestly. You would see that the apparent non-existence of God, or said more politely, the illusive nature of God has a much better explanation. I leave it to you to discover it!

Robin said...

bs"d

Sorry for the delay. I get so many emails that I apparently missed yours. I appreciate that you are taking the time to respond.

Robin;

As usual, you have said much, and it is difficult to respond to it all. If I may summarize the thrust of your arguments, though you seem to be saying the following:
1. The Torah is the divine word of God
2. The rule of Shemitah is one such divine rule to be found in the Torah
3. The rule of Shemitah seems to be important beyond any other rule in the Torah

THIS IS NOT WHAT I MEANT TO SAY. THERE ARE CERTAIN COMMANDMENTS THAT ARE EQUIVALENT TO ALL THE COMMANDMENTS. I BELIEVE THIS IS SO BECAUSE THEY BRING A PERSON TO WANT TO KEEP ALL THE COMMANDMENTS IN THE TORAH. HOW IS THIS SO WITH SHEMITTAH? TRY NOT TO REPAY YOUR LOANS FOR A YEAR AND SEE WHAT HAVOC IT CAUSES. TRY TO DO AWAY WITH TITHES AND PROPERTY RIGHTS FOR ONE YEAR SINCE IT'S OPEN TO ALL FOR THE PICKING. FROM MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE OF TRYING TO KEEP THE LAWS OF SHEMITTAH I REALIZED THAT G-D GAVE US A HIATUS FROM KEEPING OTHER COMMANDMENTS. IT WAS FUN FOR A WHILE JUST LIKE VACATION BUT WAS I GLAD TO GET BACK TO THE COMMANDMENTS AND WITH THE FEELING THAT I HAVE OWNERSHIP AND EVEN THOUGH I RECOGNIZE THE SOURCE IS OUR CREATOR, IT'S STILL NICE TO KNOW THAT THIS IS MINE AND THAT'S YOURS. YOU CAN'T JUST WALK INTO MY FIELD AND TAKE MY PRODUCE EVEN IF YOU ARE VERY POOR UNLESS IT'S THE CORNER OR THE FORGOTTEN SHEAVES OR WHAT WAS DROPPED. NOBODY CAN PLAY ON MY NATURE TO BE MERCIFUL. I SIMPLY TELL THE PERSON, YOU CAN'T TAKE IT ALL UNTIL THE SHEMITTAH YEAR. I GAINED A REAL APPRECIATION FOR ALL OF G-D'S COMMANDMENTS AND I GET A CHANCE TO BE IN THE BEGGARS PLACE FOR A YEAR AND HE/SHE IN MINE AND VICA VERSA. IF A POOR PERSON IS NOW IN THE POSITION OF WEALTH SINCE HE BORROWED TONS OF MONEY KNOWING HE IS NOT OBLIGATED TO PAY IT BACK, ALL THE PREVIOUSLY WEALTHY PEOPLE WILL BE SHNORRING FROM HIM. HE'LL/SHE'LL KNOW WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO BE BOMBARDED WITH BEGGARS.
There are also some miscellaneous statements that you have made that also have piqued my interest. They are as follows:
4. Every person’s name captures the ‘essence’ of the person.
5. God preserves the freedom of choice by keeping his signs vague


Let me deal with these five issues in order. First, truth be told, I do not believe that the Torah is the divine word of God.
I BELIEVE IT WITH MY HEART AND SOUL AND MUCH MORE SO AFTER TRYING TO KEEP THE SHEMITTAH.
I am not sure how many of my blog entries you have read,

NOT TOO MANY.
but I hope this does not come as a shock to you. I must say, though, that for the purposes of my blog, I do not question either God’s existence or even the Torah’s divine provenance. These topics are dealt with elsewhere much better than I could deal with them. Rather, my purpose is to analyze the Torah, as if it were the word of God, and try to glean information from it. I am honest about what the Torah is saying, and I am not afraid to allow logic to sift through the information that the Torah purveys.

GOOD
It is my contention that the rabbis of old and the rabbis of new have perverted the Torah’s teachings, often grotesquely. Much of what is said in the Torah is either ignored or even maligned in the orthodox Jewish community. It is interesting that we parade the Torah in our synagogue every Shabbat, rush to kiss it, and yet we ignore most of edicts. It is my purpose to bring this fact to light.

THAT MAY BE TRUE BUT I TOO AM FAR FROM PERFECT. LET G-D WHO SEES THE HEART BE THE JUDGE.

The second point that you raise is that the Shemitah is a deeply rooted Torah teaching. I completely agree with you here. I have focused on the Shemitah precisely because it is a clear edict by God, who states in no uncertain terms what needs to be with our land and with our debts every seven years. Yet we huff and we puff and we do our best to ignore the rule. We invent Pruzbals and we come up with “legal fictions” to find ways around this rule. The rule of Shemitah, therefore, serves as a perfect example for our (Orthodox Judaism’s) obfuscation of direct Torah commands.

MAYBE THAT IS THE TEST OF OUR GENERATION. IT'S NOT EASY TO LET GO OF ALL YOUR BELONGINGS AND SHARE IT WITH EVERYONE AND HAVE FAITH THAT G-D WILL PROVIDE. THERE IS NO POLITICAL/ECONOMIC SYSTEM IN PLACE TO SUPPORT SUCH A LIFESTYLE.
Third, you must admit that there is no apparent hierarchy in the Torah. There are apparently 613 Mitzvah’s enumerated in the Torah. There is, however, no grid that delineates which of these Mitzvahs is more important then the other. The commandment not to kill appears next to the commandment not to Idol worship. There is no indication that one commandment is more important than the next.
I HAVE BEEN TAUGHT THAT ONE MUST BE CAREFUL WITH A SEEMINGLY EASY MITZVAH AS A DIFFICULT MITZVAH SINCE ONE DOESN'T KNOW THE REWARD OF ONE OVER THE OTHER. THEREFORE I BELIEVE THAT ALL MITZVOTH ARE TREATED EQUAL. SOME MITZVOTH LIKE SHEMITTAH BRINGS A PERSON TO KEEP OTHER MITZVOTH AS WELL.
Thus, your assertion that the Shemitah rule is more important than any other rule in the Torah is puzzling. How have you come to know this? The Shemitah rule is more important than, say, the commandment not to murder? If so, why? I BELIEVE ALL MITZVOTH ARE EQUALLY IMPORTANT BUT SHEMITTAH MIGHT GET YOU TO KEEP OTHER MITZVOTH AS WELL BECAUSE YOU GAIN KNOWLEDGE ABOUT WHY THEY ARE WISE COMMANDMENTS.

Fourth, regarding the name of someone capturing the essence of the person, I can only read your comments with amusement. While it is clear that each set of parents have something in mind at the time of naming its newborn child, it is a stretch to say the least, to claim that the name captures the essence of the child. Again, how do you know? IT STARTS WITH ADAM WHO NAMED EACH ANIMAL. EACH LETTER IS HOLY AND KABBALA GOES INTO THIS MORE. I MYSELF AM NOT THAT KNOWLEDGEABLE IN THIS AREA BUT I AM CONVINCED OF ITS TRUTH. I AM SURE IF YOU ASK AROUND YOU CAN FIND OTHERS THAT CAN PROVIDE YOU WITH CLEARER EXPLANATIONS. I DO KNOW THAT ALL OF COMMENTARY, RASHI ETC FOCUS ON THE NUANCES OF DIFFERENCES OF THE WORDS IN THE TORAH. AN OMMISSION OF A LETTER IS REASON TO BRING UP AN ENTIRE COMMENTARY. IN FACT THAT IS THE BASIS OF HOW ORAL LAW IS DERIVED FROM SCRIPTURAL DERIVATION. SEE BARAISA DER/YISHMAEL INTRODUCTION TO SIFRA. IT IS CALLED THE 13 RULES WHICH IS SAID IN THE MORNING PRAYERS. IF YOU HAVE THE ARTSCROLL SIDDUR ASHKENAZ SCHOTTENSTEIN EDITION FOR WEEKDAYS WITH AN INTERLINEAR TRANSLATION, IT COULD BE FOUND ON PAGE 64.
It is often easy after the fact to make judgments about a name. Ilan means a tree, so lets link Mr. Ilan to the earth somehow! Let me ask you a question, Robin: I have a friend named “Mark”. Can you please tell me what the essence of “Mark” is? I await your insights…

WHAT IS HIS HEBREW NAME? WHY DON'T YOU ASK HIM YOURSELF. MAYBE HE HAS SOME IDEAS.

Fifth, the notion that that once God’s existence becomes more of a certainty that somehow that limits our freedom of choice is absurd. Of course, if I had some way of knowing that there is a God watching over me, then I would strive to become what God wants me to become. So? What is wrong with that? How does that lessen my freedom of choice?
LET'S SAY EACH TIME YOU SPEAK BADLY OF A PERSON YOUR TONGUE GETS TIED. SO YOU WON'T SPEAK BADLY BECAUSE YOU FEAR THE CONSEQUENCE. NOT BECAUSE YOU STRIVE TO KEEP THE MITZVAH. G-D WANTS US TO KEEP THE MITZVOTH OUT OF LOVE, WARNS US OF NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES BUT HAS PATIENCE TO SEE WHETHER WE REPENT.
In this forum, it is difficult to unravel your argument that God hides purposefully to prove a means of preserving freedom of choice.
SEE DUETERONOMY 30:19
I would simply ask you to clear your mind of biases for a minute and think about things honestly. You would see that the apparent non-existence of God, or said more politely, the illusive nature of God has a much better explanation. I leave it to you to discover it!

EVERY ACT OF MY BEING IS BUILT ON BELIEF OF G-D AND HIS HOLY TORAH. ON HIS TRUTH AND RIGHTEOUSNESS. WITHOUT THIS KNOWLEDGE I WOULD HAVE NO REASON TO PERSEVERE. I PRAY TO G-D THAT I NOT BE TESTED IN MY FAITH SINCE I AM ONLY A HUMAN BEING AND ONE CAN NOT BE SECURE REGARDING HIS/HER FAITH UNTIL THE DAY HE/SHE DIES.

badrabbi said...

As usual Robin, you have said much, and I can not possibly react to all of it.

The following exchange, though, fascinated me:
I said: "I do not believe that the Torah is the divine word of God."

You replied:I BELIEVE IT WITH MY HEART AND SOUL AND MUCH MORE SO AFTER TRYING TO KEEP THE SHEMITTAH.


I can give you many reason why I do not think that the Torah is the word of God. It is interesting though that you know the truth to be otherwise with your "heart and soul"! How did you come to acquire such surity? Please describe your path to certainty regardng this matter...

Robin said...

>I can give you many reason why I do not think that the Torah is the word of God. It is interesting though that you know the truth to be otherwise with your "heart and soul"! How did you come to acquire such surity? Please describe your path to certainty regardng this matter...<

I will address this question with reference to my Shemittah experience. I came upon the Mitvah of Shemittah by accident. I came with the assumption that the Torah is Divine and if the Torah says it, than it must be G-d's Law and we must follow just because it's a Mitzvah w/o really understanding th full ramifications. So with blind faith I tried to keep the laws prescribed in the Torah w/o loopholes. That means loaning out money knowing that one is not required to pay back. Trying to be extremely sharing with those that do not have, more so than usual. Try living this way for a while and the roles are reversed. One becomes on the begging side.
The taker. In fact one can assume the role of the "thief", since he/she will ask for loans knowing that the Torah gives him/her permission not to pay back. Now this honest person can respond with full backing of the Torah to the individuals who are true thieves. These real thieves are now exposed. If these real thieves are Torah observant they will be forced to loan money to others. I can not describe to you the joy of knowing that finally one will not be taken advantage of because of their honesty and integrity. I realized that the Torah is brilliant! Who would have come up with this other than Hashem. So many other wonderful understandings came to light from trying to observe this Mitzva. This Shemittah experience only enhanced the knowledge that the Torah is Divine. At Sinai the Jews said, we will do and then we will listen. When we actually do the commandments w/o truly understanding why, we eventually come to the point where we gain understanding and bless the Creator for His wisdom and thank Him for the wonderful Torah that has kept us on track. Those who go according to their understanding go in a different path that leads them astray. At one point they or their children will realize that their lives are messed up and will try to rectify it. That is the process of Teshuva. It happens to all of us even to those who are observant. But those that are sincere in keeping the Torah will weather the storms in a stronger fashion. Their belief in the Torah and in the Divine will be their lifeline and sustain them until the storm recedes. Again, I pray never to be tested in my faith since I too am vulnerable.

badrabbi said...

Robin,

Thanks for you reply. Can you clarify the exact mechanism of the shmita again? Specifically, the following sentence does not make sense to me: "the real thieves are now exposed. If these real thieves are Torah observant they will be forced to loan money to others."

Please understand the following. Under Torah law, all loans indeed default during the Shemitah year. That much is true. However, no one is "forced" to lend money. If I were a saavy business man, religious one at that, I would simply refrain from loaning money to anyone during years coming to Shemitah. No law "forces" me to give a loan.

Robin said...

Ture that noone is "forced" to loan any one money. However, the Torah is quite clear that if one refrains from lending money to the poor, specifically prior during the Shemittah year, then they will have sinned. If they do lend then they will be blessed. One is not "forced" to give but the incentives for the true believer is found in the verses. A true believer is not going to wait to find out what the consequences are. Note the word "lawless". Apparently there is a law that requires him to loan the money. The reference of Shemittas Kesafim is found in Deuteronomy 15: 1-12, In verse 15:7 it says. If there shall be a destitute person among you, any of your brethren in any of your cities, in your Land that Hashem, your G-d, gives you, you shall not harden your heart or close your hand against your destitute brother. Rather, you shall open your hand to him; you shall lend him his requirement, whatever is lacking to him. Beware lest there be a lawless thought in your heart, saying, "The seventh year approaches, the remission year" and you will look malevolently upon your destitute brother and refuse to give him - then he may appeal against you to Hashem, and it will be a sin upon you. You shall surely give him, and let your heart not feel bad when you give him, for in return for this matter, Hashem, your G-d will bless you in all your deeds and in your every undertaking. for destitute people will not cease to exist within the Land; therefore I command you, saying, "You shall surely open your hand to your brother, to your poor, and to your destitute in your Land." (translation courtesy of the Stone Chumash)

badrabbi said...

Robin,

Thank you for your citation of Deuteronomy 15. That clears my earlier objection.

However, it raises a new issue. Why couldn't God simply have said, "give generously to the needy or else"? In this way, the whole Shemitah issue would have been unnecessary? You state that Shemitah keeps the god fearing thief honest in that he would have to lend to the poor knowing that he will not get his money back. Yet, God could easier require people to give to the needy every year. Why bring about the shemitah if this is the goal?

Robin said...

We don't really know the reasons for the Mitzvoth and we are not allowed to assume we do. However, when one keeps the Mitzvah as commanded we find positives as a result. In this particular instance either the thief/miser is G-d fearing and breaks his nature in trying to keep the commandment which is very praiseworthy because it is the hardest thing to do something contrary to ones nature, or he is not G-d fearing and in this case will continue to hoard his/her money and disregard the commandment. However, the G-d fearing Jew who has always been both generous and honest and now asking for help is now aware that this seemingly observant Jew is not as G-d fearing as he had previously believed and in the future, in the next 6 none Shemittah years will give his business elsewhere. He will not be as naive.

badrabbi said...

Robin;

Ok, I accept your explanation. I agree with you.

Badrabbi

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