Releasing Debt this Shmita Year
May 13, 2022
“Shmita” – the Hebrew word for “release” – is the final year of a seven-year agricultural cycle outlined in ancient Jewish texts. Shmita was a time for rest and restoration during which our biblical texts mandated that the earth lie fallow. It was also a time for healing and liberation, when debts were remitted, and people held in bondage were set free. In our times, shmita is an opportunity to pause, reflect, and reset. As one 17th Century Jewish sage observed, during shmita we are reminded of the divine origins of this world and our role as stewards of creation and champions of justice.
In a contemporary approach to the Jewish tradition of shmita, we are spotlighting RIP Medical Debt, a non-profit organization that leverages donations in order to alleviate medical debt, which is the leading cause of bankruptcy in this country. For every $100 donated, RIP Medical Debt can relieve $10,000 of medical debt. To date, the organization has covered six billion dollars in unpaid medical bills.
Rabbi Buchdahl spoke about RIP Medical Debt and the importance of freedom from debt in her May 13, 2022 Shabbat sermon.
“What does it mean to have liberty? It’s not just about doing what we please. Or freedom from physical restraint. It includes the positive enjoyment of social, political and economic rights. In the context of parshat Behar, our Jewish tradition also teaches that there can be no liberty without a basic measure of economic stability. That debt can be a form of subjugation.”
This Shmita year, please consider releasing a family or an individual from the burden of their medical debt.
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