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הרחמן | Haraḥaman, Prayer to the merciful One for the Shmita Year, R”H seder additions, and other liturgical tweaks by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)

"Shmita sign." A resident of Holon, Israel, announcing the fruits on the trees in his backyard are hefker (ownerless property) during the year of Shmita, and that anyone can enter and harvest them. עברית: תושב חולון מודיע כי הפירות על העצים בחצרו הם הפקר לרגל שנת שמיטה. (credit: Drork, Public Domain.)

Shmita sign.” A resident of Holon, Israel, announcing the fruits on the trees in his backyard are hefker (ownerless property) during the year of Shmita, and that anyone can enter and harvest them.
עברית: תושב חולון מודיע כי הפירות על העצים בחצרו הם הפקר לרגל שנת שמיטה. (credit: Drork, Public Domain.)

Additions to the Birkat Hamazon

This Haraḥaman (prayer to the merciful or compassionate One) for the Shmitah or sabbatical year can be added to Birkat Hamazon (blessing after meals) during the whole Shmitah year, in order to remember and open our hearts to the sanctity of the land. Say it right before the Harachaman for Shabbat, since Shmitah is the grand shabbat, and right after the paragraph beginning with Bamarom (a/k/a, Mimarom).


הָרַחֲמָן הוּא יָשִׁיב לִבֵּינוּ אֶל הָאָרֶץ,
לְמַעַן נֵשַׁב יָחַד עִמָהּ,
בְּשָׁבְתָהּ,
כָּל שְׁנַת הַשְׁמִיטָה.‏
Haraḥaman hu yashiv libeinu el ha’aretz l’ma’an neishev yaḥad imah
b’shovtah kol sh’nat hash’mitah

May the merciful One turn our hearts toward the land,
so that together we may dwell with her,
in her sabbath-resting
during the whole year of the Shmita.

Here’s a niggun (melody) by Nili Simḥai for the haraḥaman, sung by Rabbi David Seidenberg.

For your festive meal, you can also print out this PDF and add the Haraḥaman prayer to your birkon (benscher).

Addition to the Rosh Hashanah Seder

Many people eat special foods as part of a mini-seder at the beginning of the Rosh Hashanah meal and invoke blessings for the year as they eat them. This year, you can add figs to your Rosh Hashanah seder (apples and honey, or apples, dates, beets, etc.) and recite with this kavanah (intention):

“In the year of Shmita, the sabbatical year, our ancestors would let the land rest from their plows, receiving and eating whatever grew and ripened by itself from the land. And fig trees were especially prized in Shmita, because they would ripen little by little over many months, always providing food. And some say that the fig was the fruit of the tree of knowledge, and that Shmita is our time to receive the knowledge from Eden in the right way and the right time, when all us ripened toward understanding.

“May it be Your will YHVH our God and God of our ancestors that during this year of Shmita, as the world ripens for us little by little, always turning again toward us to nourish and sustain us, that may we turn to receive in gratitude what is offered so freely and lovingly, so that we may turn and ripen in justice and love toward this world and all its creatures.” (Eat the fig!)

(For a full Shmita Rosh Hashanah seder, see also R. Nina Beth Cardin’s seder at: The Sova Project)

High Holiday Liturgy Tweaks

Two suggestions for ḥazanim (cantors) and shliḥei tzibur on the High Holidays:

1) In the Hayom piyut, add “hayom tishm’tenu ligulah” — “the day of our release” (note — the phrases come in alphabetical order) הַיוֹם תִּשְׁמְטֵנוּ לִגְאוּלָה.

2) In the piyut that comes at the end of some amidot on YK and RH (e.g. Sepharadi minḥa Kaddish Shalem, beginning “sha`arei orah” etc.) add “sha`arei sh’mitah” שַׁעֲרֵי שְׁמִיטָה.

1 comment to הרחמן | Haraḥaman, Prayer to the merciful One for the Shmita Year, R”H seder additions, and other liturgical tweaks by Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)

  • Where can we remind ourselves that we are living in the year of the Shmita, the year-long Shabbat for the Earth? Feeling satiated after eating is just the moment when one is liable to become self-satisfied and forget that one’s nourishment is due to the vast and complex interconnections of all rooted in and wovenby the Source of All life. This is the reason for blessings after meals, and this is why during the shmita year we must remind ourselves that the Earth too depends on our mindfulness, everyday for its welfare as the home for us and all our fellow human and non-human passengers on our Earth.

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