Dear TEE Community,

During the month of Elul, leading up to Rosh Hashanah, I led a series of discussions about Shmita, the biblical tradition of a sabbatical year in which the land lay fallow and the ancient Israelites lived off of what they had saved or could forage. We explored ways in which the values of Shmita involved many aspects of life, including work, economics, sustainability, and our relationship to the earth.

Those of you who attended services on Erev Rosh HaShanah, heard me speak about the connection between Shmita and these lines from Marge Piercy’s poem, “The Art of Blessing the Day”

Attention is love, what we must give
children, mothers, fathers, pets,
our friends, the news, the woes of others

The question of who and what we truly love is answered in our attention, in the time we devote to them.

As this Shmita year continues, I invite you to continue to consider and discuss these concerns. How might we do a better job of aligning our time with our values and our needs? For example, as a result of thinking about Piercy’s words and the ideas we discussed in the Elul class, I have decided to stop using social media and spend that time in activities that connect me more directly to other people.

Beginning Monday, November 1st, I will be hosting a monthly Shmita discussion group. This is meant to be an opportunity to support one another in finding ways to make our lives and communities more sustainable. Each session will have a different focus and you’re welcome to participate in one or all of them. Our first gathering will look at Rabbi Abraham Joshua’s ideas about the holiness of time in Judaism and how that might apply to valuing our own time. I hope you’ll join us!

Rabbi Drorah Setel