I live in a primarily Jewish neighborhood. My neighbors walk to synagogue on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings. The local grocery stores over the weekend are empty except for the random goy, such as myself.
Most impressive about my neighborhood was when Recently, there was a car accident outside my apartment. I went out to offer assistance and directed traffic until the police arrived. Most impressive about my neighborhood was when, almost immediately, two separate passers-by, each wearing yamakas, pulled over, reached into their car trunks for a safety vest, identified themselves as EMT’s and offered assistance. The clearest sign of my neighborhood came along with the ambulance that appeared. (See image.)
This week, my neighbors (and I) are celebrating Rosh Hashana, starting September 24 and lasting until the 26th. We enter the new Jewish year, 5775 for those keeping track. It is a special sabbatical year – a seventh year in a recurring cycle of sacred sevens – calling for the whole year to be rather Sabbath-ish throughout. It’s called the Shmita; the word means release of something that has been held tightly.
The Shmita calls for an agricultural / economic release. Fences come down, lands are to be shared for the benefit of all. Relationships are reconsidered as unearned gifts, grace given through one another.
Perhaps this is the real Let it Go. In this modern day, might we take a sabbatical from grudges, anger, disappointments, and fears and anxieties? Might we release them from death-grips to hands and hearts open to life?
Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin, the director of the Baltimore Jewish Environmental Network, contends that
The shmita year comes, then, to remind us in this age in which autonomy and economy reign, that the state of our private wealth depends to an astonishingly large measure on the state of our commonwealth. Every seven years we are called to upend our habits, to shake things up. We are asked to remember who we are and whose we are; to remember that we are here but for a short time, and that the most enduring aspect of our lives is not what we consume but what we leave behind. We need to be reminded of this every seven years for we no doubt forget in the rough and tumble of the other six.
Release. Grace. Leaving Behind. These are all themes of Reconciliation and we do well to remember the faith of our forefathers and foremothers. During these days and throughout 5775 join me as we all Seek Shalom.