How Do I Keep the Bible’s Sabbatical Year?

June 17th, 2015 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question:

I really enjoyed listening to you on the Glenn Beck show and thought I might ask a quick question, if that’s all right…
 
I am a farmer/rancher and have decided to observe Shemitah, even though I don’t think it is “required” of gentiles. I just want to, as a sign of obedience to Him. But, I do wonder if it is permissible to cut hay for our cattle this winter? I am far from being an authority on this matter and don’t want a “loophole”. I really want to properly observe it to the best of my ability. I believe He will provide for us in any case. He always has.
 
Any help you might offer would be greatly appreciated.
 
Blessings,

∼ Ted C.

Answer:

Dear Ted,

Let me start my response to you by praying that God rewards you for your faithfulness.

Second, thanks for watching the Glenn Beck show on which I appeared.

Your question is really interesting because not an hour before receiving it, I had just completed writing the Thought Tool that went out to over 40,000 of my students.  I taught on the Shemitah and the Yoveil/Jubilee 50 year cycle.

Here is one of the main things about Shemitah, Ted, it applies only in the Land of Israel.  Here in the United States or anywhere else in the world, the Shemitah has no application.  Thus I would encourage you not to observe it because you would be needing to draw down unnecessarily from your spiritual capital account.  It is perfectly normal and natural for those observing the Shemitah this year in Israel to turn to God in the expectation that He will assist them in surviving the Shemitah year economically.  But since God does not ask you to make this particular sacrifice, on what basis would you be asking Him to take special care of you?

Instead, why not make your Shemitah observance the giving away of more money this year than would be normal for you in the other six years?  In any event, that is what I would do if I was fulfilling my dream of farming and ranching.

Is my answer to your question making sense?  I would like to think that you wouldn’t have troubled me with your question if you didn’t consider my response to be reliable.  I suspect that your willingness to do this will on its own bring blessing as did Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son.

Let me know how things go for you.

Blessings,

Rabbi Daniel Lapin

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