The Land belongs to the Lord: Recycling and the Shmita Year


by WellnessJerusalem Staff

Similar to the Sabbath which we experience every week, the “Shmita” or Sabbatical year brings with it a certain holiness. It offers us all a special potential for spiritual growth, personal development, for becoming the person that G-d would want each of us to be.

It’s a time for learning more Torah specific to this period and for making Aliyah (for those yearning for our Land). Shmita is a period for taking-on this especially challenging Mitzvah.

The Shmita year reminds us that the land really doesn’t belong to us, “The Land belongs to the Lord.” We have a selection of mitzvot which remind us of this. You may wish to learn more about Shmita with a qualified teacher. A full year of restrictions on our use of produce really drives the message home. Since this land is virtually on loan while we live, in our stewardship, we need to be extra careful to take good care of it, keep it clean, and not pollute it.


What can WE do? See steps below for more details. About three years ago, the Knesset passed the important law known as The Packaging Law. This law puts financial responsibility for all packaging on the manufacturer and the importer. He who pollutes, pays. This isn’t the sort of law that can be implemented from one day to the next. It requires cooperation between numerous organizations and citizens.

  1. If your local government has provided new orange packaging bins (in addition to the cages for plastic drink bottles and paper recycling), USE THEM. Deposit all forms of packaging in the bins and encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same. If your area government is a bit behind, remind them of our responsibility to keep the Land of Israel clean. It will save them money in the long run.
  2. We can also eat fewer processed foods. In this way, there will be much less packaging to pollute the Land and you’ll feel better. Consider learning more about foraging (see article in this issue)  thus taking advantage of nature’s bounty.
  3. If you build a house or have renovations done, make sure that the building waste is properly disposed of. Only 20% of building waste is properly disposed of. That means that 80% is left by the roadsides to deface the land. It can be recycled and building waste is a potentially valuable commodity.


The Shmita year is primarily a chance for the land to;

Rest and for farmers to take a much-needed break. In our urban society, some of us can quietly ignore that side of things. Along with the physical rest, similar to the Sabbath day that comes once a week, the Shmita year brings additional holiness, the potential for improving ourselves and our society. Rav Tzvi Rimon suggests that we put aside an hour a week (or more) for volunteer work, for helping those in need around us.

In addition, this is also the time when more and more local governments are starting to implement the new recycling law. New behaviors take time to develop. Any change in one’s daily routine can be difficult. We can use the additional strength provided by the Holy Sabbatical year to keep G-d’s land cleaner.468x120_eliana_cohen

Shopping in Israel during the Shmita year can be daunting.  We suggest that you consult your most respected rabbi’s and rebbetzin’s who have learned the rules of this tradition.

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