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.

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