These texts on the Shmitah Year (the Year of Release, the seventh year, the “sabbatical” year) were brought together by the Skirball Center for Adult Jewish Learning at Temple Emanu-El in New York City.
[This essay is a chapter in Rabbi Waskow's book Godwrestling -- Round 2 (Jewish Lights, 1996). The book is available as a free gift from The Shalom Center, personally inscribed by Rabbi Waskow as you choose, if you use the Donate button on the left to make a tax-deductible contribution of $36 or more.
[At the end of this essay you will find citations on teachings from the Hebrew Bible & related materials toward a Jubilee Economics and Ecologics.]::
One lesson that we have discerned from studying the story of the Flood [see a previous chapter from Godwrestling -- Round 2] is that it is profoundly necessary for us to affirm and celebrate the cycles of life if we wish to preserve the cycles of life. Are those cycles now in danger? And if so, how can we affirm them?
Hard-headed Bankers or Masters of Disaster?
Sacred Economics -- Is it Silly?
Hard-headed Economics -- Is it Breaking our Heads?
If you listen to the hard-headed people who presumably keep us prosperous, Biblical and Quranic economics are, of course, quaint and unrealistic. They're based on romantic ideas about benefiting the poor, the landless, the outcast. Good for motivating open-hearted charity; bad for making hard-headed decisions necessary to run a successful economy.
Right. Which is why the hard-headed folks have created a crazy economic yo-yo skidding on the edge of massive disaster, in which the worst-hit will of course not be the Wall Street / Washington power-houses but the rest of us.
Is it irresponsible for a society to insist that land is returned the original land-holder, even if they had lost it through laziness and lack of care? What kind of society would insist that moneylenders continue to lend to those in need, even if they knew that the borrower would be unable to pay the money back by the 7th year? These are some of the questions we might ask about Shmitah and Jubilee, the 7 year and 50 year cycles described in Leviticus 25.
Make a recurring donation and receive Freedom Journeys as our token of appreciation. Click here for more info about the book. Freedom Journeys is a deep meditation on the timeless—and timely—relevance of the Exodus narrative. In the grand tradition of mystical exegesis, Waskow and Berman reflect upon Exodus not only as an event that happened “then” and “there”, but a paradigm of movement that is happening here and in the now, for all of us, Jew and Muslim, Black and White, male and female. —Omid Safi, professor of Islamic studies, University of North Carolina.