Shoe Polish, Shemitah, and Shabbat
When I was a little girl, my Saba z"l would polish my patent leather Mary Janes every erev shabbat. He would carefully apply a thin layer of what I thought to be magical white cream and meticulously buff away the previous week's scuffs and stray marks. Why, you may ask, am I writing about polishing shoes for parashah? (Or in more Rashi terms: What does polishing shoes have to do with Har Sinai?) Saba's "polish" of choice, his wonder cream, was called "Jubilee," and I cannot learn or read about shemitah and yovel without thinking of Saba and his painstaking efforts every week, Jubileeing (his verb) my shoes.
So, jubilee it will be this week. The menu is simple for Friday night--Jubilee Chicken (a recipe can be found here: http://www.food.com/recipe/the-queens-golden-jubilee-chicken-official-recipe-331068. Of course, I'll be using a pareve substitute for creme fraiche) and Cherries Jubilee for dessert (without the flambe, unfortunately). During the meal we will talk about the shemitah cycle, which is mirrored in the omer cycle, and practice counting by sevens. We will discuss what happens in the shemitah year and how the Torah promises bumper crops in year six to compensate for the fallow land in year seven and the regrowth in year eight. Then, we will get to yovel. What does freedom have to do with the cycles of seven? If the end of the omer cycle culminates with Shavuot and celebrating matan Torah, how is yovel similar in its culmination? If seven is a natural cycle, how is the 50th day or year something that is above and beyond the natural? How does the commandment to set all slaves free during yovel demonstrate the themes of yovel and how does it relate to the land? [Ultimately, we are all servants to God, and all we have belongs to God.]
Wishing you a jubilant Shabbat,