Shmita (leave out, let loose) is the term for the biblical commandment (mitzva) to abstain from agricultural work in the land of Israel and the forgiveness of all loans. Shmita takes place every seven years. 

After seven cycles of shmita (49 years) comes the Yovel year - the fiftieth year - which enacts shmita laws, but also includes the release of all slaves as well as returning all sold land to its original owners. 

The commandment of shmita took place while Jews were living in Israeli territory - in biblical times, as well as during the First and Second Temple periods. 

However, once the Jews were exiled from Israel, the commandment could not be fulfilled. Renewed Jewish immigration to the land of Israel in the late 1800s revived discussions on the implementation of shmita

In the State of Israel today, Israeli farmers have a variety of legal options and processes that they can choose from before, during and after shmita to curb the financial losses of halting production for an entire year. 

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