SHMITA: THE JEWISH TRADITION OF SABBATICAL YEAR
The sabbath year (shmita Hebrew: שמיטה, literally "release") also called the sabbatical year or sheviit (hebrew: שביעית, literally "seventh") is the seventh year of the seven-year agricultural cycle mandated by the Torah for the Land of Israel, and still observed in contemporary Judaism. During shmita,the land is left to lie fallow and all agricultural activity, including plowing, planting, pruning and harvesting, is forbidden by halakha (Jewish law). Other cultivation techniques (such as watering, fertilizing, weeding, spraying, trimming and mowing) may be performed as a preventative measure only, not to improve the growth of trees or other plants. Additionally, any fruits which grow of their own accord are deemed 'hefker' (ownerless) and may be picked by anyone. A variety of laws also apply to the sale, consumption and disposal of shmita produce. All debts, except those of foreigners, were to be remitted. Chapter 25 of the Book of Leviticus promises fruitful harvests to those who observe the shmita, and describes its observance as a test of religious faith. There is little notice of the observance of this year in Biblical history and it appears to have been much neglected. Shmita is mentioned 4 times in the Torah, and 4 more times in the hebrew bible.
Even though I am Jewish, I heard about the tradition of shmita for the first time a few years ago. While reading about the tradition I thought that, apart from being a smart interference in capitalist discourse, it has the potential to be socially and economically relevant. I found it to be a nice and simple suggestion to stop our routine in order to question common perceptions. It also has high relevance to work with materials, and understanding of basic concepts in design. The relationship between designers and material, in relation to work but also to deeper understanding of it in relation to time, control and other very basic and crucial elements in creative work.
Thesis second year, 2015–2016