Debt Free This New Year

As we usher in the new year this Rosh Hashanah, the Shemittah year begins. How does this affect your debts and loans?

How likely are you to offer a loan knowing that you will not be paid back? 

Every seventh year of the Jewish calendar cycle is Shemittah, a sabbatical year. Shemittah is observed with two main commandments. During Shemittah, farmers in the Land of Israel do not work the land. Additionally, any debts incurred over the previous seven years are absolved. 

During the Second Temple Era, an issue arose. The wealthy began avoiding lending money to the poor. They feared that, come Shemittah, they would not be paid back. Hillel the Elder established a Halachic solution to solve the problem. 

According to Jewish law, only private loans are absolved during Shemittah. Hillel instituted an arrangement called pruzbul. On the day before Rosh Hashana of the Shemittah year, debts owed to individuals are transferred over to the Jewish court. The Beis Din is public and therefore the loans remain binding.

This year, as the farmers in the Holy Land take a Sabbatical, G-d will also be observing Shemittah. He gives us life, and we often give Him rushed prayers, squandered words, mitzvah opportunities blown, and a soul neglected. But G-d won’t be making a pruzbul. The personal loans owed to Him by the Jewish people will be absolved. 

G-d is the ultimate Source of good. The pruzbul was established for those weary of offering a loan. Such sentiments do not apply to G-d’s relationship with us. If we are only ready to turn over a new leaf, G-d will forgive all past debts.

No matter our credit score, we will receive blessings for a sweet new year. 

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