What makes the year 5782 special?

Thursday, 2 September, 2021 - 1:25 pm

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The year that will start next week with Rosh Hashana is special. It is called Shemita, the Sabbatical Year.

What is the Shemita year?

Every 7th year, we have special Mitzvot that apply to this year. We do Shemita (literally release) for the land and the money.

1. The land:

First, the Shemita concerns the land i.e we need to release, desist from cultivating our fields. We do not do field work such as plowing or sowing or putting fertilizer and instead we devote our time to study and to other spiritual pursuits.

Second, we relinquish personal ownership of their fields; whatever produce grows on its own is considered communal property, free for anyone to take.

Third, these fruits are considered holy, and we cannot simply discard them with disrespect if we don’t consume them.

These laws apply only to fields in the Land on Israel, until our days.


One of the explanations is that, in the same way the days of the week have the Shabbat to remind us of our Creator, the years have the Sabbatical year, the Shemita, where we stop to work the fields to remember that the land belongs to G-d.

It also reminds us that everything comes from Above. In the routine of our days, as we cultivate our fields, or in our different occupations, we can come to think that we are succeeding on our own merit. When we have an entire year where we don’t cultivate the fields because G-d has commanded us to do so, we recognize that the blessings of our lives come from G-d.

2. The money:

The Shemita also concerns the money i.e we need to release, to forgive the loans that are owed to us. If we lent money to someone and the year of Shemita comes, we are forbidden to ask for our loan back. If the lender wants to return it from his goodwill though, we may accept it. This Mitzvah applies to Jews all over the world, not only in Israel.

More than 2,000 years ago, Hillel the Elder saw that people were avoiding giving loans as the Shemitah year neared. In order to encourage people to continue lending money (which is a Mitzvah - to help those in need), he instituted the Pruzbul(פרוזבול) system. The Pruzbul is a simple declaration in front of the Beth Din that we transfer to them the debts that are owed to us, making it possible to redeem them even during Shemita.

Until today, this declaration of Pruzbul is done on the eve of Rosh Hashana of a Shemita year (as well as in the end, according to some), in front of a Beth Din (3 men).


This Mitzvah, as well as the Pruzbul process, is here to remind us that the money we have earned is thanks to G-d’s blessings. This is why we forgive our loans, to remember that we do not succeed (only) through our work, but with G-d’s help.

Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tova,

Arie from the Yeshiva

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