God instructed Moshe to tell the nation about the mitzvot of Shemitah. Every seventh year, the Land is ‘rested’ and no agricultural work is permitted. It is also forbidden to sell Shemitah produce for profit. After seven cycles of seven years, the 50th year is designated as the Yovel (Jubilee) year. As well as the Land again being left fallow, servants go free and certain types of ancestral properties return to their original owners.

It is forbidden to cheat anyone in business. Careful observance of the laws of Shemitah will ensure that Israel dwells safely in the Land.

God promised that the people will not go hungry if they observe Shemitah – He will provide sufficient produce in the sixth year to last all the way into the eighth year.

When someone becomes so impoverished that they have to sell part of their ancestral heritage, their relatives should endeavour to purchase it back on their behalf.

In certain walled cities, a seller has the right to repurchase a house in the first year after its sale. This does not apply in non-walled cities. There are 48 Levite cities in Israel; the laws pertaining to its fields and houses differ from other cities. One is forbidden to lend money with interest.

After someone becomes a servant in an attempt to escape from his poverty, his owner is not allowed to burden him with unnecessary or overly taxing work. His relatives have a duty to try to release him from his servitude by buying out the rest of his contract from his owner.

If a Jewish servant is sold to a non-Jew, the same obligation applies to his relatives to release him. We are reminded to avoid idol worship, keep Shabbat and revere the Temple.

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