Omer Learning: Day 7: About Shemitah

The Count

Tonight we count the following day of the Omer:

Today is 7 days, which is 1 week of the Omer

See: The blessings and procedure for counting the Omer.

Today’s Learning

The topic of today’s learning is About Shemitah. It was contributed by OmerBot.

Shemitah as an idea is powerful. But was it practiced as in ancient times? Here’s one perpective on this:

“There is some evidence that shmita was practiced in biblical times. In
his commentary on Behar, for instance, Rabbi Joseph Hertz noted that
the Roman historian Tacitus said shmita observance was proof of Jewish
laziness, and that, as documented by Jewish–Roman historian Josephus,
both Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar canceled taxes that
otherwise would have been levied on Jews in the shmita year because
they were not working their fields [19]. There is even Talmudic
evidence that fences were removed during the shmita year, so as to not
only allow easier field access to all but to remove symbols of private
ownership [20]. Still, it is unclear to what extent shmita was
practiced in biblical times, or if it, or yovel for that matter, was
even ever once practiced fully. The presence of the laws within the
Torah provides proof that shmita as codified was not naturally
practiced, and biblical prophets chastised the people specifically for
not observing shmita.”

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