“The Torah is a commentary on the world, and the world is a commentary on the Torah…”

Commonly translated as the “Sabbatical Year,” shmita literally means “release.” Of biblical origin, this was the final year of a communal Israelite calendar cycle, when land is left fallow, debts are forgiven, and a host of other agricultural and economic adjustments are made to ensure the maintenance of an equitable, just, and healthy society.

The most recent shmita year was 2021–2022 or 5782 in the Hebrew calendar. The next shmita cycle will be in 2028-2029, year 5789 in the Hebrew calendar.

Shmita at Adamah

As we approach and experience each shmita year, Adamah works to elevate the teachings of shmita. We often ask what might the next shmita year look like in a modern context, in the Land of Israel and in the diaspora? And not just for farmers, but for businesses, for families, for communities, for each of us individually? How can we best prepare for it? And how might the wider shmita cycle hold the key to approaching the economic, environmental, and societal challenges we are facing today?

Beyond raising awareness, we want to explore the ways that traditional shmita teachings shed light on a range of contemporary related issues, including rest and work, relationship to land, debt and debt relief, definitions of community, and the issue of consumption itself. We believe that raising awareness about shmita is important in deepening our understanding of Jewish tradition, and in helping us to think through critical issues in the world today.

Shmita Resources

explore the history, context, and lessons of shmita
Shmita Divrei Torah

In the preparation for and during the 5782 shmita year, writers from around the world wrote commentary connecting the weekly Torah portion with shmita. While shmita is only one year in a seven-year cycle, its values present the core of the Torah’s vision of a society that opposes the concentration of wealth and power, and promotes justice, equity, and chesed, lovingkindness, for people and the earth.

Shabbat Ha’Aretz

The Sabbath of the Land translation of an essay on shmita published by Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook in 1909. This work is lyrical and mystical, a meditation on the big themes that underlie religious environmentalism. This compendium includes Rav Kook’s philosophical introduction to shmita and selections from his halakhic writings on shmita, with an introduction by Rabbi Yedidya J. Sinclair, and foreword by Nigel Savage.

The Shmita Sourcebook

An exploration of the history, concepts, and practices of Shmita, from debt forgiveness to agricultural rest, economic adjustment to charitable giving. The updated sourcebook explores texts and commentaries that build the framework of Shmita within the biblical and rabbinic tradition, as well as contemporary voices that speak to Shmita as it relates to our modern world.

Adamah Educational Library

We have over 40 other resources on shmita including in-depth source sheets, essays on how to observe shmita in modern society, and videos of interviews and classes given during past shmita cycles.

The Shmita Project – 5782

During the 2021-22 shmita year, a special initiative sought to expand awareness about the biblical Sabbatical tradition, and bring the values of this practice to life to support healthier, more sustainable Jewish communities. The Shmita Project spanned across the Jewish landscape to elevate the role that shmita plays in today’s society.

The Shmita Year invites us to rethink the world that we live in and tune into the ways in which we can actively make a difference. During this seventh year, God commands us to let the land rest, release debts, resolve disputes, and to open our hands and hearts to those in need. But how do we bring this tradition alive in an era when we no longer rely on the rhythms and harvest of our fields to survive?

Jewish tradition is rooted in ritual objects, texts, music, and practices that facilitate both a personal and collective engagement with the Jewish cycle of the year. Harnessing the power of the arts, we launched the Shmita Prizes – a global competition to explore the intersection of the shmita wisdom teachings with contemporary Jewish life. The artworks submitted offered creative avenues with which to prepare for, mark, and engage with the shmita year. Prizes were awarded to artists and creatives for works that bring into focus the relevancy and application of shmita values in our contemporary world. The winners shown here can serve as a source of inspiration to Jewish artists interested in engaging with the teachings and values of shmita.