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The Sabbath of the Land

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We are proud to share The Sabbath of the Land, a translation of Rav Kook’s Shabbat HaAretz! Hazon published the first edition on the eve of the shmita year of 5775, in 2014–15. Since its first publication there has been a growing interest in, and awareness of, the profundity and relevance of shmita as a concept. As Nigel Savage, former Hazon CEO, notes in the foreword, “So shemitta is coming to life in new and fresh ways. And yet we have indeed barely scratched it. This is why it is important to read Rav Kook – to think anew about how great is the ideal, how great the challenge, and how very far we are from bringing any serious version of it to fruition.”

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook was the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of the land of Israel in the 20th century. His essay, Shabbat HaAretz, written in 1909, is lyrical and mystical, a meditation on the big themes that underlie religious environmentalism. This compendium includes Rav Kook’s philosophical introduction to shmita (in Hebrew and English) and selections from his halakhic writings on shmita (in Hebrew and English), with English an introduction and summary essay by Rabbi Yedidya J. Sinclair, and foreword by Nigel Savage.

The work makes Shabbat HaAretz accessible to English-speaking readers. It presents an original, annotated translation of the entire introduction and includes selections from Rav Kook’s halakhic work, rendered in fluent, readable English. These are illuminated by contextualizing essays on Rav Kook’s life and thought, the historical background to Shabbat HaAretz, and the book’s enduring power relate to issues of land use, social justice, and climate-change activism in the twenty-first century.

Rabbi Yedidya Sinclair is an Oxford and Harvard-educated economist, writer, and rabbi, inspired by bringing Jewish teachings to life in new ways. He worked for five years as Vice President at Energiya Global, an Israeli solar energy company bringing renewable power to Africa, before that in a startup designing eco-cities. Energized by Israeli hi-tech ventures solving huge global problems.

The Sabbath of the Land is published in partnership with Koren and Hazon. Hazon first published this English translation as Rav Kook’s Introduction to Shabbat Ha’Aretz in 2014 with the support of Hazon’s founder Nigel Savage.