Shmita Adventures

William-Adolphe Bouguereau, "Rest at Harvest (1865), via Wikimedia Commons
William-Adolphe Bouguereau, “Rest at Harvest (1865), via Wikimedia Commons

Image Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ABouguereau-Rest_at_harvest(1865).jpg

While I have been posting semi-regularly since starting this blog about a month ago, my adventures have interfered with completion of the posted Blogging 101 assignments. I’ve decided to “reboot” the course from the beginning for February and continue to improve my blog. Today’s assignment: Revisiting “Who I am and Why I’m here.”

Last month, I wrote this About Me bit introducing myself to the great big blogosphere. This month, I want to pare down what I’m trying to achieve through this “Protopian Pickle Jar Project.” While I personally find it greatly entertaining, “Random Thoughts from Batsheva’s Brain” is a somewhat chaotic morass for readers to wade through. Instead, I hope to focus the blog posts on the inner work of unpacking what I call my “Shmita Adventures,” with the occasional interjections of “Look, Shiny Internet Thing!”

So what’s a Shmita Adventure? It’s a term I borrowed from my friend and mentor Daniel K to describe one’s unconventional activities during a sabbatical or life-transition period. Shmita (literally “release”) is the biblical agricultural concept of letting the land rest (“lie fallow”) every seventh year.

You may plant your land for six years and gather its crops. But during the seventh year, you must leave it alone and withdraw from it. The needy among you will then be able to eat [from your fields] just as you do, and whatever is left over can be eaten by wild animals. This also applies to your vineyard and your olive grove. Exodus 23:10-11.

This year (5775 by the Jewish calendar) is a Shmita year, which began with Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) in Fall 2014. While there are technical rules for how Shmita is observed in the land of Israel, there has been exploration of how we can engage with this ancient concept of rest and renewal in terms of our relationships to the earth and with each other. Hazon has some really interesting resources available through its Shmita Project site, including links to Yigal Deutscher’s Envisioning Sabbatical Culture shmita manifesto.

The beginning of my current bout of non-employment coincided with Rosh Hashanah of the Shmita Year, so I can literally classify “Stuff that’s happened since September” as “Shmita Adventures.” However, in a broader sense, my Shmita Adventures began with my decision to apply to Adamah in August 2012 and have been continuing ever since.

Shmita-related links:

  • From the Jewish Week Food & Wine section: Adamah Farm Explores Shmita
  • Food Preservation (pickles!) is an important part of Shmita culture. Loved this NYTimes article about the woman who drives around in bus and teaches food preservation classes.
  • One idea of practicing Shmita is reducing one’s consumption of purchased goods to conserve resources. The Buy Nothing Project facilitates creation of local gift economies, so people can trade things they already have.
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