1. Introduction-The Torah verses relating to Shemita

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1. Introduction-The Torah verses:

The Torah[1] commands us every seventh year to sanctify the year as Shemita. The Shemita year contains a number of laws and regulations that relate to one’s land, ground produce, and loans.

  1. Resting the land from work:
    • It is a Biblical positive command to rest the land during the Shemita year.[2]
    • It is a Biblical negative command to not sow the field or prune the vineyards.[3]
  2. Harvest:[4] One may not harvest the land regularly.
  3. Food distribution:[5] The food is to be distributed equally to all, including animals. [See Chapter 3 Halacha 9 for the full details of this matter]
  4. Hefker:[6] The produce of the field is to be completely disowned for all to partake in.
  5. Loan cancelation:[7] One is also commanded in the Shemita year to annul all loans that he is owed by other Jews.

The reward for keeping the laws:[8] If these laws are guarded, Hashem promises that the land will produce three years’ worth of produce in the 6th year.

The punishment for lack of keeping the laws:[9] Lack of properly keeping the Shemita laws brings exile from the land. 


[1] Shemos 23:10-11 [Parshas Mishpatim]; 34:21 [Parshas Ki Sisa]; Vayikra 25:1-7 [Parshas Behar]; 26:33-35 [Parshas Bechukosaiy]; Devarim 15:2 [Parshas Re’e]

[2] Vayikra 25:2 and 4 [Parshas Behar]

[3] Vayikra 25:4 [Parshas Behar]

[4] Vayikra 25:5 [Parshas Behar]

[5] Vayikra 25:6-7 [Parshas Behar]

[6] Shemos 23:11 [Parshas Mishpatim]

[7] Re’e 15:2

[8] Vayikra 25:20-21 [Parshas Behar]

[9] Vayikra 26:33-34 [Parshas Bechukosaiy]; Miseches Avos 5:9

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