24 October 2011

Prerogatives of sovereignty

Perhaps in the early 20th century before the time of national sovereignty when Rav Kook instituted the heter makhira in the yishuv it made sense to use such a legal fiction for sheviit because there was as yet only a vague notion of who was sovereign over the land of Israel. After the establishment of the State, however, the act of selling the lease to an uncircumsized resident ought not to have any effect. 
The issue of sheviit is the issue of sovereignty over the land, and that sovereignty does not transfer to ethnically excluded residents; nor could individuals transfer sovereignty, in any case. 
Sovereignty is a deeper property right than simple ownership, especially of land. When market transactions bump into the proscriptions of entailment and inalienability they are really bumping into the limit of ownership rights before the prerogatives of sovereignty.

A mockery

If heter makhira could work after the establishment of the State, it would require the Knesset to invoke it. That legalistic gesture would however be a catastrophe. 
Were the Knesset to invoke heter makhira, it would signify that the people of Israel were willing to release their sovereignty over their land and to put that sovereignty in the trust of another people. That would be both preposterous, and it would weaken in their own eyes as well as in the eyes of the world the claim the people of Israel had to the land. 
Furthermore, it would make a mockery of the relation between the people of Israel and God. 

21 October 2011

Internal lines of privilege

The one and seemingly only element the Rabbis address in the matter of sheviit is whether or not and how Jews are prohibitted from planting and harvesting the land during the sabbatical year.  
  • There is another side of the choq: to suspend for the duration of the sabbatical year the laws of private property as regards the land. 
  • Such suspension undoes the initial distribution of the land leases that constituted the initial settlement of the land.
  • That distribution defined the claims to the land both between the tribes as well as within the tribes to the families of Israel. 
Even should exigencies of the moment foreclose the option of suspending agricultural activity so that, because of the pressures of scarcity, say, farmers would need to plant and harvest their fields during the sabbatical year, it is not clear why the people couldn't honor the other side of the sabbatical proscriptions, the side that suspended private property rights over the land.
Sheviit is really not only about leaving the land fallow. Sheviit is also about distributing the nation’s stored wealth to the general population and about breaking down within the society the internal lines of privilege that invariably grow up.

Keeping shabbos practicable

Lechem mishna, lechem yomaim, in the story of the mannah (Shemot 16), is about the Children of Israel’s responsibilities actively to receive God's bounty and His blessings. 
It is not enough for the people to keep the shabbos, they must also prepare for the shabbos so as to make the keeping of the shabbos practicable. The story of the mannah is not about whether a Jew may carry on the seventh day but about how the Jew ought to gather a double portion on the sixth. The institution of shabbos is partly about what is prohibited and partly about what is commanded. 
The Children of Israel have a responsibility to make it so they can keep the shabbos. As such they have a responsibility to organize their affairs around the continual production of a weekly surplus that is then immediately consumed every seven days. The society establishes a rhythm of production of surplus and then consumption of surplus – every seven days, every seven months, every seven years, every seven times seven years. 
When God promises there to be bounty to keep the laws of sheviit what He is saying is if you build it, I will come. His promise for sheviit mirrors His promise for mannah on shabbos. The anticipation of complaints about the impossibility of keeping sheviit is similar to the Children of Israel complaining to Moshe right out of the box after the Red Sea about their not having food in the wilderness. 

18 October 2011

Wither & revive

The central teaching of the laws of sheviit is that people can't create institutions for the distribution of unearned wealth; people need, rather, to dismantle institutions in order to allow the wealth to return to its source. 
It's as though every seven years the institutional life of the community needs to wither and then to be revived; while during that interim sabbatical year things need to return to the wild for a spell. 
In short, people need more institutions so they can generate the surplus during the six years and then they need to cut back to fewer institutions so that they will have to consume the surplus and return to a paradisical state where everyone can just pluck the fruit from the tree. 

A couplet

Shabbos and sheviit form a couplet. 
The one is about the internal, spiritual, creative power each of us has within him or herself; the other is about the foundation of the material things God gifts to us. 

Their own sustenance

One crucial element in the laws of sheviit is that during the sabbatical year the entire population actively participates in their own sustenance. During that year people have to return to first principles, to remember how to fend for themselves. It is a year where people return to a more primitive way of life, as the complicated, interconnected institutions of a complex society cease their function. 
The objective of the year of sheviit is to disperse the excess and to digest it so as to make it no longer alienable. To accomplish that dispersal properly the population needs to be capable of receiving the excess and to make it inalienable in themselves. That inalienability is achieved through the population having to perform their own daily harvesting. 
It removes the mystique of the expert and returns the responsibility for each person's welfare to the person him or herself.  

16 October 2011

Once sovereign

Sovereignty is inalienable. When other rights are inalienable they derive that inalienability from the inalienability of the sovereign. 
A people cannot sell off to aliens their claim to their land because that would violate the inalienability of the sovereign. 
So long as the Jewish people were not sovereign in the Land of Israel it made sense for them to think they could sell off their private property to aliens during the sheviit year.  Once the Jewish people become sovereign, that option takes on a different meaning. 
If the Jewish people feel they can exercise heter makhira, then ipso facto they are saying they do not have a sovereign claim to the land. It is small wonder the Haredim are comfortable with heter makhira since in the first place they feel no particularly strong connection to the land, and even less so to a sovereign claim on the land. 

15 October 2011

Time & space

In re: a new paradigm for philanthropy and creativity, do we need to build some sort of think tank-like institutions to help people get a firmer grip on the novel strategic principles they would likely not be able to comprehend on their own without some explicit instruction in the details of the new paradigm. How do we not end up building academic institutions where people who don't know what they're talking about find themselves teaching practical skills to people who don't know how to use them?
 The scriptural injunction of 've-et shabbtotei tishmoru', 'and you shall guard my Sabbaths', was probably directed at precisely this concern. The Torah says, for starters, you don't build a parallel institution to teach the lessons of creativity, you build the teaching function into the very way you manage the institutions of creative enterprise in the first place. How? Through the sabbaticals, the 'shabbtotei'.
 One day every seven days, and one year every seven years, and then one more year every 50 years, creative workers pause in their work to re-calibrate and to reflect on what is merit and what is grace, on where the covenantal line is drawn that defines justice as deservedness, on how to be clear and humble about one's own place in one's work. When one understands one's relationship to one's work, the work becomes 'melakha', the expression of one's own identity rather than mere labor or toil.
 You begin by building the institutions of instruction and evaluation into the dimension of institutional time rather than the dimension of institutional space. Then, when the 've-et shabbtotei tishmoru' has been accomplished, you can move on to 've-et miqdashei tira-u', 'and my sactuaries you shall recognize/fear'. Then you can also build (in institutional space) a temple of the teachings of creativity. This think tank/temple would be administered by 'priests' who service the members of the creative sector but remind them of the source of Man's creativity, priests who in their very lives embody and defend the covenantal line between merit and grace. Such a think tank/temple, however, needs to supplement the basic, temporal institutions of instruction and evaluation that ought to be built into the very way in which we organize creative work in the real world, in the first place; and that has to happen seriatim in the temporal domain.
 ChZL, very possibly, had it backward. We do not learn the meaning of melakha on shabbos from the example of the melakha of the building of the miqdash. Rather, it's the other way around. We learn the meaning of melakha in the miqdash from the lessons we learn from the self-reflection that happens on shabbos and sheviit and yovel regarding our work experiences in the real world. That way the miqdash can remain fresh and relevant to the experiences of the people.


Conjecture: Torot should refer to what gets taught, primarily in the miqdash. The other institutions likely would not do the teachings. 

Next most reasonable facsimile

ChZL replaced the brit Sinai with halacha
In a world where the covenantal partnership has been abrogated halacha is the next most reasonable facsimile that embodies a relationship with a divine being. The Christians devised a different facsimile; the Muslims, yet a third one. 
All have fundamentally altered the basic covenantal relationship the Chumash describes as specified by the treaty at Sinai, which treaty was constituted of the treatises at Sinai and the institutions of covenant that were detailed at Sinai, which institutions were comprised of the mishkan and the laws of sheviit and shemitta and yovel and the proportions of valuation of cherem that complete the exposition that began in parashat Terumah

Defining deservedness

The episode of shabbos at the Sin desert is not about melakha, it is about choq
No mention of melakha is made in the episode's text. Quite the opposite, the manna was about the gift of grace from God. The manna was an exercise in defining deservedness, as the paschal lamb was an exercise of defining deservedness. Both measured the needs of the household. 
The practice of collecting manna according the needs of the household accustomed each individual member of the Children of Israel to acquaint themselves with their various needs, more than which would have consituted excess. The manna allowed God to define the measure of sufficiency for each household. To attempt to collect an excess of what was sufficient was to no avail. Each household ended up only with what they deserved by right. 
Nor could they store any excess. It would putrify overnight. (This putrefaction, hivish, recalls what happened to the fish and the frogs in the first two plagues of Egypt.) 
Only the extra measure on shabbos would keep. 
A mishmeret is a storage of surplus. A mishmeret does not hivish. The mishmeret extends to all the generations of Israelites, which is why Aharon kept a sample of manna as a standard against which future generations would measure how much was enough. 
An omer is approximately half a gallon. 

Corporate veil

In a modern economy sheviit would be less about the land and more about the corporate veil. 
Every seventh year the corporate veil of limited liability should be removed to eliminate the insulation of the wealth of the decision-makers from the decisions they made in the intermediate years of the sabbatical. 
The corporate veil is a form of private property that deserves closer examination. 

Chonen u'malveh

Chonen u'malveh are the two standard aspects of how to implement just-deserts. 
  • Grace (chonen) is the proper response to unearned wealth; 
  • Shared destiny and jointness of risk (malveh) is the proper response to insularity in decision-making. 

14 October 2011

Stock & fund

Yovel addresses land as a stock; sheviit addresses land as a fund. 
Sheviit acknowledges God's claim to the land as a fund; yovel acknowledges the people of Israel's claim to the land as a stock. 
Yovel is thus a year for acknowledging Man's side of the ledger while sheviit is a year for acknowledging God's side of the ledger. 

The gyre

The periodicity that is imposed by the judicious application of sheviit offsets the danger of the society’s spiralling out of control in an ever widening gyre. 
The gyre is the symbol of a center that cannot hold. 

As a fund

That the land must lie fallow during the sabbatical year is the mechanism by which God makes sure the land will always function in the society as a fund and not be employed as a depletable stock. 

Appointed times

The cycle of the festivals, the “appointed times” (in biblical parlance), denotes the movement of the Children of Israel from scarcity to abundance and from divinity to partnership to mortality. The covenantal meeting in a sacred time and place is intimately bound up with the abundance being distributed. 
That the appointed times are sacred merely signifies that these are the moments when the covenantal partners get to meet to demark the meaning of the day. The sanctity is necessary because the covenantal partner had removed Himself from the ordinary life of the people. Prior to the sequestration of God's substance into the Tent of Appointment (Ohel Mo’ed) His presence was everywhere in the camp and the entire people were sacred because the entire people were in direct and immediate contact with their covenantal partner. After the sequestration, the sanctity is reserved only for appointed times and at the appointed tent when and where the encounter between the covenantal partners takes place. 
The annual cycle begins with the paschal offering. Pesach offerings set apart the people from the divine by having them eat meat without offering it on an altar and without sharing it as an appeasing fragrance for God . Chag haMatzot has the people eating mortal food in the same (unleavened) form as God partakes of it. The last day of the chag stops the condition of independent divinity for the people, which is why Scripture calls the seventh day of chag haMatzot “atzeret”, the stop. These two festivals – chag pesach and chag haMatzot – situate the people outside of the Land of Israel. 
Chag haShavuot brings the people into the land by displaying the first fruits and wheat before God through His priests, and by repeating the original declaration that first Israelite generation made when they took possession of the land, saying this land is the promised land which fulfills God's sworn obligation to the people. It is not clear that the entire people celebrated the festival at the same time, nor is it clear the urban class participated in the ceremony of the first fruits at all. The heave offering displays both mortal and divine food, doubletons (the sign of abundance) waved together as a symbol of covenantal fulfillment. 
Chag haSuccot is about the divine food that begins in abundance and concludes in symbolic scarcity, with the Shemini Atzeret closing off the divine mimicking the mortal. 

Uncertainty as a positive

The sabbatical year serves as a limit to the money supply. 
The sabbatical year fixes the time when the growth of the money supply will certainly stop. Excess liquidity creates asset bubbles which pop as soon as it is clear when the growth of liquidity will stop. It is the uncertainty around when the illiquidity will occur that keeps the bubble going. The generation of the bubble depends on the uncertainty of what is considered a bad event (the cessation of the growth of the money supply) rather than the certainty about a good event. 
Bubbles thus depend on uncertainty as a positive rather than as a negative. 
The popping of a bubble comes from the stock reverting to a fund, from the asset's value being defined in terms of the likelihood of reselling the asset at a higher price down merely to the net present value of the asset’s income stream. The inability to resell at a higher price exposes the asset’s value as simply the net present value of the asset’s fruits. 


The Bible ties, etymologically, the harvests of the land (tevuah) with the coming into the land (tavouh); and both tie in to sexual intercourse (biah). 

Land & money

The laws of sheviit and shemitta together comprehend the two dimensions of resource curse: land and money. 
The reason why the laws of land is called sheviit while the laws of money is called shemitta is because land is made by God whereas money is made by people. 
The suspension of property rights regarding the land does not require the same sort of release by the putative property owner that a similar suspension of property rights would invovle when it is with respect to money-creation in the form of the extension of credit. 

Commercial loans & personal loans

The question is how does shemittat kesafim really work? 
Part of the shemitta releases property rights in commercial loans to stop the power of credit creation; part of it releases property rights in personal loans to relieve the impoverished condition of the poor and indigent. 
Conjecture: the commercial loans last seven years from time of transaction just like the obligation of slaves; personal loans free up on the sheviit years. 

Property rights & people's rights

The logic of the politics of property says that political rights depend on the firmness of property rights. Remove property rights and political rights inevitably fail. 
There might be considerable truth in that. 
On the other hand, delivering too much power to the propertied classes also undermines the people's rights. The Laffer curve might not have been true about taxes and revenues but it might be true about property rights and freedom. 
Much of the art of politics is about finding the proper balance between property rights and the people's rights. 
  • The Biblical system is unique in that it deals with property rights temporally as well as cross-sectionally. 
  • The Biblical system is tailored to a weak government where the property rights are embedded less in the laws and more in the culture. 

Suspending property rights

The laws of sheviit say you may not distribute society's surplus through an inflation in the value of the assets of the society; you must distribute the surplus by suspending property rights in the assets, and by leading the entire society into harvesting the fruits of those assets. 

Creature of possibility

Surplus is a creature of possibility. 
Only because people can imagine the possibilities of a future can they systematically accumulate a surplus. 
The question of allottment of shares in what's possible is cognate to the question of allottment of shares in the surplus. In the latter case God provides the stuff of production, in the former case God serves as the source of inspiration. 
Reverence is the recognition of God's bounty, whether of the past or of the future. 

11 October 2011

Every choice a coersion

Shemittat kesafim does not absolve the debtor of his debt. It simply reverses the valence of the dunning for the debt. 
Before the term of shemittat kesafim the creditor has rights to be repaid and can demand repayment from the debtor. After the term of shemittat kesafim has passed, the burden moves to the debtor who must now be the one who demands of himself the act, the obligation, of repayment. 
Shemittat kesafim transforms the right of the creditor into the duty of the debtor. After shemittat kesafim the entire population gets to behave like the privileged, who repay out of duty rather than out of requirement. 
What shemittat kesafim really means is that the debt moves from the personal to the general. It now becomes society's responsibility to have the individual debt be repaid. 
We need to understand better the difference between a personal obligation and a public duty. The obligation that comes from respecting someone's rights can morph into a duty to respect those rights. 
The more obligations become duties, the more autonomy reigns in the society where the ordinary citizen acts out of abundance and the privilege abundance affords rather than out of coersion and the scarcity that coerces. 
A society that is free to choose but where every choice is a coersion is an enslaved society.

Indentured servitude

The laws of an eved ivri are with respect to debt. 
It is about indentured servitude not being able to go beyond either six years or yovel
It is more about the power of debt rather than about the laws of slavery. 
What the laws say is there can be no true slavery among the people of Israel. 

From family to nation

Why does biblical law regarding the redemption of debt distinguish between kinsmen and strangers? 
The true objective of the laws of sheviit and shemitta is the cultural milieu of the kinsman. The reason for the laws of sheviit and shemitta is to promote the sort of cultural milieu at the (most local) family level that could sustain the practices of a sabbatical society at the (most global) national level.  

Stop the blight

Mutual aid to keep kith- and kins-men out of the kind of debt that results in loss of their ability to pay their debts is the subject of the sheviit chapter. 
Irreversible insolvency is a social cancer that must be rooted out, one way or another, by the common concern of the entire people so that even if the leadership is not wise to these matters, God leapfrogs the leaders and arranges for the people to organize themselves to stop the blight. 
That leapfrogging means God favors kinship groups over imperial, tribute-collecting (Egypt) or centralized, bureaucratic (Canaan) nation-states. 

Neither palace nor cult

Claims to land are claims to participating in the nation's self-sufficiency. 
Neither the palace nor the cult can make such a claim in ancient Israel. In the biblical regime, the palace and the cult can claim residences and cities but not landed real estate; only God and the tribes and the clans that constitute those tribes are so empowered. 
Under the biblical regime, the economic power of the people may neither be centralized nor aggregated. 
(Egypt under Joseph accomplished just such an illegitimate, centralizing apportionment of the land to both the palace (Pharaoh) and the cult (the priests of Egypt), where the cult functioned as a state temple and the court functioned as a sachral monarchy.) 

Spread the risk

As regards how to employ a national surplus, the first allocation should be for the sake of insurance, to spread the risk throughout the population and to reduce the danger of insolvency. 
Define illiquidity as the forced entry into the market of the sale of stocks that ought ordinarily to be held to maturity. The forced character of that entry into the market has a predatory feel about it. Surplus should be used to insure against such predatory market intrusions. 
God's role is to endow the tribute-bearing classes with enough wealth to defend against the tribute-imposing classes from abusing their privileges for the sake of imposing structural  change in the political/economic and social/spiritual order. The way to defend against unwise structural  change in the body politic is by insuring in the lives of the common person against the alienability of the inalienable. 
Define structural  change in the body politic as an alteration in the general consensus of what just-deserts means. Deservedness is tied to inalienability. 
  • People ought not be able to sell the source of their deservedness. 
  • Autonomy must never be for sale. 
God’s role of safeguarding the collective autonomy is a model for Man’s role of safeguarding his personal autonomy in like manner. The objective of the former is to enable the latter. 
Insofar as the collective is made up of the aggregation of the personal, in a sovereign nation it is the responsibility of both the leaders and the followers to reinforce each other's autonomy by deploying the surplus of the collective to ensure the individual's autonomous ability to produce a surplus of his/her own. 
The measure of a healthy economy is not the productivity of the workforce but the ability of the workforce to generate surpluses. If we take a productive workforce and we raise the level of its consumption so that their personal savings rates go negative and so that the insurance for the autonomy of the individual rests in the artifical inflation of their asset values, which inflated values are experienced as windfalls, then we have a sick economy no matter how productive the workforce is. 

Institution building

"The treaty stipulations are themselves presented as a body of teaching. The purpose of biblical law is to shape and form the polity, not merely to address cases and provide remedy." (Joshua Berman, Created Equal, 2008; page 100). 
The treaty stipulations are thus directed to the rulers of Israel and to her privileged classes to build social, political, economic and spiritual institutions to enable within the population the fulfillment of God's directives without the people needing recourse to some functioning leadership. 
Debt relief is taken out of the hands of the newly crowned kings and placed under the body politic's control as an element of membership in the Israelite collective. 
Institutions are direct instruments of self-governance as opposed to government by strongman rule. Likely the Biblical term 'shamor' connotes the responsibilities of institution building. 

10 October 2011

Release from debt bondage

Shemittat kesafim domestically will be repaid to (compensated for) its adherents by the nation's consequent achievement of a strong international financial situation, not unlike what today is going on in China. 
Shemittat kesafim will foreclose the development of a permanent, indigent under-class because the release from debt bondage makes it harder for the privileged classes to tilt the playing field in favor of the privileged, while, at the same time, the practice in paying one's debts voluntarily promotes strong character in the financially less well endowed. 

Mundane sanctity

Sheviit frees the people to serve God rather than having to serve their mundane rulers. 
The sabbatical year is sacred like the Sabbath day is sacred. (Actually, only yovel is qodesh the way shabbat is qodesh but shnat sheviit has a mundane sanctity that rivals the divine sanctity of the yom shevii.)
If the ghetto Jew denominated himself as shomer shabbat, the Jewish citizen of Israel might denominate himself as shomer sheviit or shomer shabbatot

Fount of value

The stock, be it of the land or of the person, is inalienable because it embodies what serves to produce the deservedness or undeservedness. 
The stock is that which earns or does not earn the wealth. The only thing one can do with such stocks is to engage with them in gift exchange or to service them as their stewards. They are dedicated to God as the creative sources of productivity, and those sources cannot be traded for they are the fount of value, the meqor. Marx would have called them the means of production. It is what we're all trying to get at when we talk about capital.  
Laissez faire is what unleashes the creative power of the capital because, unlike the more traditional alternatives that had from the outset grossly misconstrued the productive process, laissez faire in its own way understands and serves the sacred nature of that fount of value. 
The most sacred things in our societies are those things that engender that which we deserve. To honor the fount of our deservedness is to honor what is sacred in the world. It is the basis of our identity and dignity and autonomy. 
What is sacred is inalienable, and what is inalienable is sacred. 

Irreducibly populist

What's interesting about sheviit and yovel is that is circumvents not only the palace but also the temple. 
The purchase on land tenure does not depend on the cult. That is the deeper meaning of the placement of the two penultimate chapters of Leviticus: they come at the end of the Levitical laws but they are not themselves Levitical. 
By tying the laws of sheviit and shemitta to a periodic and predictable sabbatical or jubilee year the Israelite God removes them from the decrees of the ruling class, be it palace- or temple-based. 
By that token, it might make sense that the modern day renewal of the laws of sheviit and shemitta ought not to depend on rabbinic participation or approval. It might be that the laws of sabbatical and jubilee are irreducibly populist and must come out of the will of the subjects and not the rulers.


That the Sefer haBris, which is parshat Mishpatim, begins with manumission indicates its priority in the spiritual-political system which is the Chumash's teaching. 
The biblical law is not about servitude but about the conditions under which the servitude is ended. 
This interpretation would argue away from translating Elohim to mean the court's door, as ChZL would have it, because the laws of servitude should prohibit the participation of any mundane ruler, even a judicial court. The offense of a man voluntarily submitting himself to servitude is against the Power Who freed the Israelite, which freedom the debt-servant in question, in the event, is rejecting. 
Israelites are equal not so much before the law as they are equal in each other's eyes. But for the usury laws, manumission is the civil law most frequently repeated in the Chumash. 

Labor into capital

Servitude translates labor into capital. It obliges dedicated labor for a fixed and extended period. 
Severance pay for servitude must enable the freed servants to launch themselves into a self-sufficent line of work. 

A firedrill mentality

The sabbatical year is designed not so much to allow the fields to go fallow as to allow the society to manage the resource depletion. If it were just allowing the land to revive, then it wouldn't be necessary for all farmers to observe the same cycle. The law could just decree that land could be worked only six years in a row, any six years. What the law is actually doing by designating the fallow years as coincidental across the entire society is enabling the building of social institutions designed to deal with resource depletion. 
A nation-wide sheviit socializes the natural environment's issues by turning them into political/economic issues. The same is true for shemittat kesafim. If it weren't about the building of institutions, it wouldn't be necessary for the shemitta to happen all at the same time. 
The institutions the laws of sheviit and shemitta encourage are populist in nature. What they accomplish is a firedrill mentality that enables the general population to deal with resource problems that may confront them without having to come on to the ruling classes. That way, in the event the society undergoes resource depletion, recalcitrance on the part of the ruling classes would not impede the general society's ability to respond in a thoughtful way to the challenges facing them. 
These populist ‘release’ institutions remove the ruling classes from being able to effect a resource curse. 
In the biblical regime, rulers are not absolute. God sends Moshe to Egypt as his messenger to rule not over the Children of Israel but over Pharaoh, and, in a milder way, over Aharon, his brother. When the nation is founded, they have no ruler other than God. When Moshe eventually takes on rulerly responsibilities it is after both the people and God have asked him to, and Moshe's function is largely as mediator, trying to serve as a consensus builder between the two covenantal partners rather than as an isolated actor claiming divine prerogatives or special privileges to his class. 

A social reserve

The sabbatical year, like most sacred institutions, involves centralized, non-crucial spending by the national government. 
As such, the sabbatical year functions like a social reserve, a kind of forced savings of excess and surplus, that could be deployed in the event the society were to under-go genuine environmental pressure like famine, plague or natural calamity. 
These sacral institutions are thus both the products of the social surplus and the embodiments of that surplus. 
The sacral institutions can function properly only if they see themselves as flexible. Once the sacral institutions become too sacred, once the protection of the reserves becomes the objective of the entire social order, then the society loses its ability to adjust to the environmental pressure. With too much sanctity, the society once again becomes subject to collapse. 

Into usury

When the Jews in exile were prohibited from owning land and were shunted off into usury they were, in fact, moved from the abundance of the land to the abundance of the money system. 

Accelerating growth

What the sabbatical year does is break the momentum of growth. 
The danger in growth is acceleration. Things that need accelerating growth in order for them to work well tend to be dangerous. 
The sabbatical year is like a speed bump. It may not slow the car down but it keeps the car from speeding up. 
Whenever something needs accelerating growth for it to work, the sabbatical year will kill it. 

Unsustainable growth

The antidote to unsustainable growth in a society is a society built around balance. 
Under the sabbatical year system the sus period builds up income and exhausts the capital; the sheva period exhausts the income and builds-up the capital. Such a system forecloses the society from reaching shmeinah, excess and obesity, which excess would make it vulnerable to the resource curse. 

Avraham's treaty

The treaty God will remember when the exiles return to the homeland will be the treaty with Avraham, the treaty about the land. 
It would not be implausible to consider the treatment of sheviit God made with Moshe at Mount Sinai as an extension, refinement and a renewal of the treaty He made with Avraham rather than a mere elaboration of the treaty at Sinai that revolved around the Decalogue. 

Balance point

The balance point of the society is the institutional establishment of the satiation point. 
The respect of the sacred Sabbaths corresponds to the cultural formulation in the society of when enough is enough, whether it be in terms of consumption, production, or the preservation of one's dignity, honor and integrity. 
Knowing when enough is enough might be the basis for the society of the establishment of standards and practices in an institutional setting.