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Holy, Holy…Holy? – Blog from FallowLab #6

Nigel Savage, President of Hazon and our special guest educator at last night’s Fallowlab Study Salon, was locked in a heated (but friendly) discussion with Amichai. At stake – has our insistence on the land of Israel as holy come at the expense of a universal understanding of holiness, especially when it comes to people? Has it unintentionally lead to arrogance, callousness, and racism? He whipped out a quote from economist Larry Summers, “In the history of the world, no one has ever washed a rented car,” …and even Amichai had to stop and have a small laugh.

SHMITAsfdLast night we focused not on a modern digital understanding of Shmita but rather on the fundamental questions on which it’s based – what makes one place holy and not another, and what political implications is that having on us today? Joining us was Rabbi Reuven Greenvald, who shares his thoughts here:

map_ancientI agree that the guiding question raised at the Fallow Lab needs to be addressed: why isn’t shmita-observance, in all its contemporary forms, prompting critical conversations about conflicts over the Land (and, land in general)?  Since last night I have been pondering the teaching from Talmudic text on the source sheet (Tractate Chullin 7a): when determining Land borders for Shmita, considerations about equitable food distribution should be taken into account.  This text re-enforces the guiding question in that the Shmita conversation is in service of deep discussions about the greater good.”

Want to comment? Check out the FallowLab website and join the conversation here. Also, be sure to check out Hazon’s amazing collection of resources on Shmita, including this easy and insightful downloadable PDF filled lots of great ideas.

-Ezra Bookman
Program Associate