In describing the deeper reason behind Shemittah, the Kli Yakar (Vayikra 25:2), sv. וכדי ליישב כמה דקדוקים בלשון הפר' says that the goal of Shemittah is to instill into the jewish people faith in Hashem. That He will provide for us anything we need:

I would say that the reason for this mitzvah is to implant the character traits of faith and trust in Hashem in the people of Israel. Hashem was concerned that perhaps when they would come to the land they would work the soil in the natural way, and when they would be successful they would forget Hashem and remove their trust from Him. They would think that ‘their might and the power of their hand have made them this wealth,’ and the world goes along in its natural way. They would think that the land belongs to them; they are the masters and no one else. Therefore, Hashem took them out of the natural way altogether, for within six years the nations of the world plant their fields for two years and let one year lie fallow, so the land will not be weakened.

Last Shabbos, my chavrusa asked me what the spiritual meaning of Shemittah is nowadays, in our spiritual life. The Sefer HaChinuch says that shemittah is only observed and linked to Eretz Yisroel, since the posuk says: "When you enter the Land" (Sefer HaChinuch 84), but, for us being in Galus, there must be a deeper reason behind shemittah.

My chavrusa came upon an article on Rabbi Kook (although I am not familiair with his teachings), where he says that shemittah in our days refer to refraining from mundane matters. This can be found in the original sefer, Shabbat HaAretz (Introduction, 10):

What Sabbath does for the individual, shmita does for the nation as a whole. The Jewish people, in whom the godly, creative force is planted eternally and distinctively, has a special need to periodically reveal the divine light within itself with full intensity. Our mundane lives, with their toil, anxiety, anger, and competition do not entirely suffocate this creative force. On the shmita, our pure, inner spirit may be revealed as it truly is. The forcefulness that is inevitably part of our regular, public lives lessens our moral refinement. There is always a tension between the ideal of listening to the voice inside us that calls us to be kind, truthful, and merciful, and the conflict, compulsion, and pressure to be unyielding that surround buying, selling, and acquiring things. These aspects of the world of action distance us from the divine light and prevent its being discerned in the public life of the nation. This distancing also permeates the morality of individuals like poison. Stilling the tumult of social life from time to time in certain predictable ways is meant to move this nation, when it is well-ordered, to rise toward an encounter with the heights of its other, inner moral and spiritual life.

Is this idea, that Rabbi Kook says echoed in other commentaries? That shemittah outside of Eretz Yisroel nowadays is for us to abstain from earthly matters for one year?

  • books.google.com/…
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 2 at 15:33
  • @DoubleAA TY, I have read over it multiple times, but I seem to be coming back to "What remains for us today of this enchanting vision? Nothing but a hollow shell!" (p. 181).
    – Shmuel
    Commented Jun 2 at 17:52


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