The Concept of Shemittah

Behar” means on the mountain.  On the mountain of Sinai, Hashem (God) communicates to Moses the laws of the “Shemittah” or Sabbatical year: every seventh year, in Israel, all work on the land should cease. A farmer must therefore have faith in Hashem that the sixth year’s harvest will also provide for the seventh year.  This exemplifies a fundamental Jewish belief that Hashem, not we, is in control of what transpires in our lives.

Cycle in Bible

The farmer walks through his meadow alone,
As dry as a bone, he groans and bemoans.

Waited all winter, and now it is March.
No drops from the sky, leaving his field parched.

Last winter lacked rains, withered his pastures.
So dry was the earth, you could see fractures.

Like Shabbat cholent that you had forgot,
On Motzei Shabbat, to turn off crockpot.

The farmer’s wife now begins to worry;
Turns towards her husband, and utters firmly:

“Next year is Shemittah, it is year seven.  
Can't sow our fields without rain from heaven.

This year we must reap enough for next year.
But look at our fields, a drought I do fear."

"Join me dear wife, to pray for the rain.
Devotion to G-d so that we may gain.

His favor we seek, our blessings will reach.
Acknowledge the teshuvah that I preach.

Morid hageshem, for rain we shall pray
Three times a day we read Shemoneh Esrei.

Steer clear of your fear, year six not over.
Together we pray, we are beholder's-

Of G-d who provides, in G-d we have faith.
This year we shall yield enough for the eighth-

Year after shemittah, our fields will produce
Enough for three years, and G-d will unloose

Far from a trickle, we pray for deluge,
Droplets from above, a torrent so huge.”

Marry the water with seeds we bestrew,
Like Chatan and Kallah, then will ensue,

Emerge from the soil, green sprouts coming soon,
Like a butterfly, pop out of cocoon.

By end of year six, G-d made rejoinder
To our entreaties, we became hoarders

Of copious wheat, enough for three years.
We bless you Hashem, this year we shall cheer.

But my dear wife, one thing you should know,
The shemittah year is very apropos

To the day we rest on Shabbat each week,
For six days we work, then repose we seek.

Shemittah like Shabbat, seven the cycle.
Work six rest seventh, we learn in Bible.

Ronen Khordipour makes Torah wisdom accessible to a wide Jewish audience through simple rhyming poetry. Khordipour is currently writing “Soul of the Scroll,” a book of poems for each Torah portion. Ronen is available for public readings, and can be reached at
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