May 17, 2018 Common Good

A Pause that Cancels Debt

Sabbath is not simply the pause that refreshes. It is the pause that transforms….

Moses, in Deuteronomy, imagines that Sabbath is not only a festival day but also a new social reality that is carried back into days one through six (Deut 15:1-18). People who keep Sabbath live all seven days differently. So the task, according to Moses, is to “seven” our lives. … Every seven years, in an enactment of “the sabbatic principle,” Israel is enjoined to cancel debts on poor people. The intention in this radical act of “seven” is that there should be no permanent underclass in Israel ….

We often take for granted that debt and interest are normative forms of relationship. For this moment however, consider, is there a person I know who is economically cornered into a status of “under class,” who owes me in one respect or another?

Consider making this personally practical. While there are ways to advocate for those casualties of certain investment funds or to engage “predatory lending” legislation (worthwhile practices unto themselves), consider today one personal relationshipyou could change. Is there a debt that you know someone is struggling to repay, how could you release them from that burden, without creating a savior complex or setting up codependency? If no one comes to mind, could you find a situation to build a friendship with someone experiencing economic isolation? If you don’t know where to start, who could you ask to help you?

Again, the practice is to “seven” our lives in such a way that we do not take debt and interest for granted, and especially to not “bless” debt-based-isolation as socially normative.

Share with a friend