Sh’mitah and Shabbat

As a staff, we weren’t sure whether the concept that שמיטה (Sh’mitah) , the periodic 7 year rest for the land, is parallel to שבת (Shabbat  – Sabbath). We didn’t know how our children had experienced Shabbat beyond lighting candels and singing special songs, so we weren’t sure the comparison would be helpful. 

 This week, without my even bringing it up, Anafim (branches, 3rd and 4th grade) made the connection themselves! One 3rd grader said, “We rest after 6 years like Adonai rested after 6 days!”

The next day, our fourth graders had a much longer conversation about it, weighing their experiences with Shabbat with what they knew about שמיטה (Sh’mitah). It started with a suggestion,  

  • Boy 1: What if we had a mini-שמיטה (Sh’mitah) all the time!
  • Girl 1: We do! It’s called Shabbat.
  • Boy 1: But you can plant things on Shabbat if you want to.
  • Girl 1: But it’s supposed to be a day of rest. It’s a LAWLESS mini שמיטה (Sh’mitah), so like you’re supposed to do it, but you don’t have to.
  • Boy 1: I guess, it’s optional rest.

I asked the group whether they did anything in their families that made Shabbat feel restful, or whether they followed any rules for Shabbat like we’ve learned there are rules for Sh’mitah.

While no one followed particular rules, some ideas they had might come back. For us, Shabbat is about:  

  • Eating special foods
  • More time with our family
  • Time for our parents to do the work they don’t have time for during the week (like, laundry instead of computer work)
  • leisurely mornings and extra screen-time

The more we learn, maybe the more parallels they’ll see!

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