This will be iy’H my fourth Shemittah in Eretz Yisrael, but never have I felt its presence so clearly. I can actually feel the excitement among so many different sectors of the population. People are crowding into plant nurseries, discussing house plants and Shemittah. In the boulevards and traffic circles, city workers are racing to plant flowers and trees before Rosh Hashanah. And — with more than 50 percent of Jewish-owned land going to be taking its well-earned Shemittah rest — farmers are doing whatever they have to do to prepare for this once-in-seven-years mitzvah.
That’s great for those of us privileged to live here. But if you live in Lakewood, Cleveland, Manchester, or anywhere outside of the Holy Land — you may be wondering: what does Shemittah have to do with me?
Much more than you think.
Rav Chaim Kanievsky on Shemittah is a fascinating work compiled by Rav Avraham Yeshayah Steinman, grandson of both Rav Chaim shlita and Rav Aharon Leib Steinman zt”l. Newly translated into English, its stories and insights show us that while the mitzvah of letting the land rest belongs to farmers, the lessons of Shemittah belong to us all: lessons of humility, of attaining the proper balance between hishtadlus and bitachon, and, above all, lessons of emunah.
Rav Chaim Kanievsky on Shemittah includes hashkafic perspectives on the mitzvah of Shemittah, dozens of inspiring stories of Shemittah observance, and selected halachos of Shemittah based on the piskei halachah of the Chazon Ish and Rav Chaim himself. It also includes “The Nine Mitzvos of Shemittah,” excerpted from The Schottenstein Edition Sefer HaChinuch, The Book of Mitzvos.
Just as Galus Bavel came upon us partly because the people did not keep Shemittah, so too the mitzvah of keeping Shemittah is inextricably linked to the Geulah. As Rav Chaim reminds us, the Chazon Ish said that if we observe Shemittah properly, we merit redemption at the end of the Shemittah year.
How important is it for us to learn about Shemittah? Rav Chaim has advised thousands of people seeking all different kinds of yeshuos, “Learn the laws of Shemittah and Hashem will grant you blessing.”
Chazal calls Shemittah-observing farmers “giborei koach, powerful warriors.” No, we in chutz l’Aretz are not parking our tractors for a full year. But by learning the laws and lessons of Shemittah, we can have our own small portion in this vital and rare mitzvah.