Parsha Behar tells of the Sabbatical year — the Shmita,
when work ceases for people and beasts
Not something we often hear
in our work-driven culture here

But once a year we read the portion
which even tells of a 7th Shmita year
every half-century
which is a Jubilee when slaves go free

Of course we don’t have Sabbatical years nowadays
And we don’t have slaves, except to the extent that
we’re slaves to work / status / addiction, and among us
some are oppressed and wrongfully imprisoned

But this year is different from all other years
because, in differing degrees, right now
many of us are enduring forced Sabbatical months
until businesses and other places reopen

These unusual times leave it to us to ask ourselves:
Has this virus-imposed shutdown
allowed us to recalibrate at all
in a constructive manner?

Have we engaged in productive
revitalization and self-discovery?
Or are we just in a hurry
to race back to work and worry?

Questions to ask internally this week
A time of Shabbos brief or lengthy
What it means to be free
In times lived differently

Jeremy Friedman is a Los Angeles-based lawyer and poet. He previously lived in Detroit, where he served as a law clerk for the Honorable Eric L. Clay of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. His poetry profile is online at


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